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Poisoning - Prevention

About 80% of poisonings occur in children ages 1 to 4 years. Develop poison prevention habits early, before your child is crawling. Babies grow so fast that sometimes they are crawling and walking before you have time to protect them.

General tips

  • Never leave a poisonous product unattended around children, even for a moment. Many poisonings occur when an adult who is using a poisonous product becomes distracted by the doorbell, a telephone, or some other interruption.
  • Be aware of common substances that are poisonous, such as houseplants and cosmetics.
  • Use childproof latches on your cupboards.
  • Keep products in their original containers. Never store poisonous products in food containers.
  • Never leave alcohol within sight or reach of a child.
  • Read product labels for caution statements, how to use the product correctly, and first aid instructions.
  • Keep the number of your local poison control center near your phone.
  • Talk with your doctor about including activated charcoal in your first aid supplies at home. Activated charcoal reduces the toxic effect of some poisons.

Household poisons

  • Do not keep poisons such as drain cleaner, oven cleaner, or plant food under your kitchen sink. Keep them out of the sight and reach of children. Dishwasher detergent is especially dangerous.
  • Have your home tested for levels of lead if any older leaded paints may still be present. For more information, see the topic Lead Poisoning.
  • Some house or garden plants and the chemicals used to care for them (such as fertilizers) can be poisonous if ingested. Be sure to teach your children not to play with them.

Alcohol

  • Keep alcohol out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Educate your children about the effects of alcohol and medicines. Encourage your teenager to avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Provide nonalcoholic beverages at parties and meals. Don't give your children the impression that adults need to drink alcohol in order to have a good time.

Medicines

  • Put all medicines and vitamins out of the sight and reach of children. Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, is a common source of childhood poisoning.
  • Never call medicines "candy."
  • Keep medicines in their original labeled containers.
  • Buy nonprescription medicines in child-resistant packages.
  • Try to take medicines out of the sight of children.
  • Do not regularly use medicines to sleep, lose weight, or relax. Try to find nondrug solutions. For more information, see the topic Sleep Problems, Age 12 and Older.
  • Check the label on the bottle each time you take a medicine to make sure you're taking the correct one.
  • Check the expiration dates on medicines. If your medicines are expired or no longer needed, call your pharmacist for instructions on how to dispose of them.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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