Last week, ten children at a daycare center in Arkansas drank windshield washer fluid after staffers mistook it for Kool-Aid (it had been placed in the refrigerator by accident). The kids were all brought to the hospital and according to reports, they're all okay. But that's pretty scary stuff. Since this is National Poison Prevention Week, I consulted Kristin Lolmaugh, a senior program manager with the National Safety Council in Washington, D.C., to find out what precautions we can all take to make sure our kids are safe from poison at home.
When we say "poisoned" what are we talking about?
A poison is something that makes you sick or hurts you if you eat, drink, touch or smell it.
I have a baby under two so I don't really have to worry about things like poison, right? After all, I'm watching her all the time.
Even if you are vigilant, there are always distractions—the door bell, the phone, etc.—that can take your mind off your child for a minute or two. It is best to be in the habit of prevention by making sure no poisons are in the reach of children of any age. More than 90 percent of poisonings occur in the home. In 2006, there were 2.4 million poison exposure calls—38 percent involved children younger than 3 years. The result of the poisoning depends on the substance, the amount ingested, and other factors.
What products in particular I should keep away from my child?
1. Cleaning substances
2. Laundry products
4. Garden supplies
5. Automotive products
7. Hobby materials
10. Pool products
What are some of the safety precautions I should take around my home to ensure my child doesn't have access to these toxic products?
1. Set up safe storage areas for all household chemicals and medicines.
2. Use child-resistant caps.
3. Keep products in their original containers.
4. Keep purses and diaper bags out of reach.
5. Keep alcohol drinks and mouthwash away from children.
6. Do not store food items and non food items together.
7. Keep houseplants out of a young child's reach.
8. Teach your children never to put plants in their mouths.
What are the signs of poisoning?
If you see an open container of a poisonous substance or medication, don’t wait for symptoms to appear—call the poison control number 800-222-1222 immediately. Some symptoms are nausea and vomiting, signs of abdominal pain or cramps; drowsiness, dizziness, disorientation, or other altered mental status; changing levels of responsiveness.
What steps should I take in the event that my child is poisoned?
For a responsive victim, call the poison control center 800-222-1222 immediately and follow their instructions. For an unresponsive victim, call 911 and provide CPR as needed.
Is there anything else you'd like to add that parents should be aware of?
Keep the nationwide poison control center's number 800-222-1222 beside every phone in your home and programmed into your cell phone.
Have you poison-proofed your home?