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Tips to Prevent Poisoning in the Home

Poison control centers across the country get more than two million calls a year about potential exposure to poisons. Almost all of these exposures occur in the home and 80% of all poisonings are in children between the ages of 1 and 4. Follow these guidelines to prevent poisoning in the home.

  • Install safety locks/childproof latches on all cabinets to restrict access to children.
  • Store potential poisons including detergents, medications, and chemical products (like pesticides and drain cleaners) out of reach and out of sight of children -- inside the house as well as in the garage or shed. In addition, it's always best to lock them up. Never underestimate your child's ability to climb.
  • Store potential poisons in their original containers. Do not transfer them to food containers like milk jugs, coffee cans, or soda bottles.
  • Keep food and potential poisons separate; store them in different cabinets. Children can mistake the identity of products that look alike to them.
  • Return all products to storage immediately after use. Keep the products and your children in sight during use.
  • Safely discard -- into a sealed, outdoor trash receptacle -- all household products and medications that are old or aren't used regularly.
  • Never mix products; dangerous fumes could result.
  • Make sure medications are in child-resistant containers. Vitamins and supplements also should be out of reach of children. Be especially alert at grandma's house. Older people with hand arthritis may get medication bottles that are not childproof. They're also more likely to leave medicine out in the open.
  • Keep indoor plants out of reach; some may be poisonous.
  • Stay away from areas that have been sprayed recently with pesticides or fertilizer.

Learn the signs of potential poisoning in children, which can include:

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Waking in the middle of the night to change your child's sheets after a bedwetting episode is practically a rite of passage for parents. And it's more common than you think. "I call it the hidden problem of childhood," says Howard Bennett, MD, a pediatrician and author of Waking Up Dry: A Guide to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting. "Unlike asthma or allergies, it's just not talked about outside the house."

Read the Bedwetting: What Causes It? article > >

If someone has been exposed to poison, call your local Poison Control or the National Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. You will be instructed what to do. Try to have this information when you call:

  • Victim's condition
  • Name of product consumed and ingredients
  • How much of the product was consumed
  • When the product was consumed
  • Your name and phone number
  • Age of victim
  • Weight of victim

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