National Poison Prevention week is a yearly reminder to check over your home and make sure that all dangerous and toxic substances are properly stored away from the reach of small children. Although it is common to baby proof when your little one starts crawling, parents often fall behind as their child quickly grows and develops new skills to get into things.
When rechecking your home, be sure that medicines and vitamins, especially any vitamins containing iron, are out of reach. Common overlooked "hiding places" for medicines are nightstands, purses, and in car consoles or glove compartments. It is also important to remind any guests, who may not be used to thinking about where they leave their pills, to be sure to store their medicines out of children's reach while visiting.
Double check bathrooms to be sure that all chemicals, such as hair-dye containing bleach and acetone nail polish remover, are stored in childproof cabinets or drawers. It is best to use childproof latches that are self-locking as opposed to those that need to be manually locked every time they are opened.
All cleaning supplies should be stored up high or in self-locking childproof cabinets. It is best to keep cleaning supplies in their original containers. Never store toxic chemicals in old beverage bottles.
Childproofing does not end in the home.
Some of the most toxic chemicals are found in the garage. Anti-freeze, paints, varnishes and pesticides, are all extremely dangerous and should be stored up high or in locked cabinets out of reach of children.
As discussed in my May 2009 blog post, "Poisonous Plants: Is Your Garden Safe for Your Children and Pets?" spring is an excellent time to look over your garden and ensure that you have no toxic plants. Some very common garden plants are toxic when ingested. These include Wisteria, Foxglove, Irises, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Oleander, Jasmine and Buttercups. For a list of many common household poisonous plants, visit Texas A&M University's "Poisonous Plants" website.
Make sure you have poison controls phone number, 1-800-222-1222, near your home phone and stored in your cell phone. If your child does ingest a potentially toxic chemical or plant, call poison control immediately. Do NOT make your child vomit and do NOT give syrup of ipecac unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional. This is because some chemicals will burn the lining of the esophagus. By making the child vomit you will burn the esophagus a second time doing twice the damage as the original ingestion.
For more tips on how to protect your home from poisons, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics' website.