Room-By-Room Tips to Prevent Accidental Poisoning
If you have kids, you’ll want to give these rooms the once-over
Kids get into everything — sometimes including products that can make them sick. An estimated 85,000 children younger than 5 are unintentionally poisoned each year in the Unites States according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A report from Safe Kids Worldwide puts the number of U.S. kids who go to the ER each year for poisoning at around 60,000.
Are all the potentially poisonous products in your home safely locked or stowed away? Use this room-by-room checklist to be sure.
In case of emergency, keep the nationwide poison control center phone number, 1-800-222-1222, near every phone and on your cell phone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises calling the poison control center if you think a child has been poisoned but he is awake and alert, and calling 911 if you have a poison emergency and the child has collapsed or is not breathing.
Related: 10 Places to Use Child Safety Locks
Mind your meds: Keep medicines in their original childproof containers. Place them out of sight, in a locked cabinet if necessary.
Related: Spring Clean Your Medicine Cabinet
Avoid drain cleaner drama: Drain openers, toilet bowl cleaners and shower cleaners can be highly toxic if swallowed. If you keep these in a bathroom cabinet, make sure the cabinet is latched. And keep the products in their original childproof packaging.
Stash the mouthwash: It may seem innocuous, but some mouthwash products contain alcohol, which can make kids sick or worse. Children may be attracted to it because its colorful or smells good, so keep it out of sight and reach. Also stash the aftershave, and the cough syrup, which an older child might try to use to get high. (Photo: tab62/Shutterstock)
Keep beauty products to yourself: Nail polish remover, eye make-up remover and the like — all of these should be up high and out of reach. Even lipsticks shouldn’t be left lying around, as some may contain a trace of lead, according to UL.
Collect all cleaners behind one closed (and latched) door: Lock up that floor cleaner, kitchen counter spray with bleach and all other household cleaners. Better still, use less-toxic cleaners such as vinegar. (Photo: B Calkins/Shutterstock)
Deter kids from detergents: Secure all dishwasher and laundry detergent pods in the same cabinet. Kids may be drawn to them since they’re small and colorful.
Skip the critter killers: Never put roach powders or rat poison on the floor if you have kids, advises KidsHealth.
Related: Natural Ways to Bug-Proof Your Home
Keep meds and vitamins out of reach: According to a Safe Kids Worldwide report, in 18 percent of medication poisonings, kids found the medicines on the counter. (They also find dropped pills on the floor, so sweep well.) Don’t forget any meds stored in the fridge — they should be out of reach, too.
Put away perfume: Perfumes generally taste awful, but their colors and pretty bottles can be enticing to small kids. Children can get alcohol poisoning from drinking perfumes, which contain 50 to 99 percent alcohol.
Hang your purse up high: Some kids love to rummage around in mom’s purse. If you have medicine in there, or even a bottle of hand sanitizer, your purse belongs out of reach. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain 45 to 95 percent alcohol. In fact, one 2-ounce container of sanitizer has as much alcohol as four shots of hard liquor, according to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Also keep your diaper bag out of reach; diaper rash creams are among the products kids get into according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
Protect against CO poisoning: While we think of poisons as things we ingest, the air can be poisonous, too, if it contains carbon monoxide. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm (or one that is hardwired but has a battery backup) in the hallway near every separate sleeping area in your home. Check the batteries at least twice a year.
Get the lead out: If your house was built before 1978, keep your kids away from surfaces with chipping or peeling paint, including walls, floors and windowsills. Lead can sometimes be found in toys, too, so, check periodically for product recalls (toys with lead in them are illegal in the United States). Photos and descriptions of recalled toys can be found on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
Button up button cell batteries: If a child swallows one of these, it could get stuck in the esophagus and form a corrosive chemical that damages tissues. Any remotes, game systems and other electronics that use button batteries, including electronic car keys, should be kept out of reach of kids. Keep any spare batteries hidden away. (Photo: Coprid/Shutterstock)
Lock up the liquor: A curious young child could mistake a bottle of colorful liqueur for fruit juice and drink it, causing serious harm, according to the American Association of Pediatrics.
Open the flue: When using your fireplace, open the flue for ventilation to protect against carbon dioxide poisoning. Don’t close fireplace doors or a stove damper until the fire is completely out. Have the chimney, vent and flu cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician.
Padlock the poisons: Store pesticides, lighter fluid, paint thinner, turpentine, antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid in childproof containers on a high shelf, or better yet, in a locked cabinet.
Open the door: Don’t start the car in a closed garage or you risk carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a keyless ignition, remember to turn off the car when you come home. People have died from leaving it on in an attached garage, allowing carbon monoxide to seep into the house.
Related: Disaster-Proof Your Garage
Service your furnace: To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, UL advises having your furnace and hot water heater inspected by a professional each year. Potential signs of a CO leak include streaks of carbon or soot around the service door of your fuel-burning appliance or moisture collecting on the windows and walls of your furnace room, according to UL. (Photo: Leena Robinson/Shutterstock)
Put a CO alarm in your basement, too. You should have at least one on every level of your home, according to UL.
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