Children and poison: Keeping the two far apart

April 12, 2006

Poison control centers receive a call every 15 seconds about an accidental poisoning, and records of the National Safety Council reveal that more than 50% of two million poisoning incidents each year involve children less than 6 years of age. To increase awareness of the danger to children of accidental poisoning from pesticides and household products, National Poison Prevention Week was observed March 19-25.

Poison control centers receive a call every 15 seconds about an accidental poisoning, and records of the National Safety Council reveal that more than 50% of two million poisoning incidents each year involve children less than 6 years of age. To increase awareness of the danger to children of accidental poisoning from pesticides and household products, National Poison Prevention Week was observed March 19-25.

Most accidental poisonings result from children's swallowing common household items-such as prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, cosmetics, personal care products, and cleaning products. Other culprits are house plants, tobacco products, and alcohol. The US Environmental Protection Agency advises parents and caregivers to keep these potentially harmful products locked up and in a high cabinet out of the reach of children. You're an essential resource to those parents, so help pass the word to them about the dangers. You can offer number of critical cautions.

Most basically, urge parents to keep household products in the original container and to leave the original label on. Read labels before using those products. Purchase products in child-resistant safety packaging and keep all household products and medicines locked up and out of sight, and out of reach of young children.

The EPA has more to recommend. Take note:

  • Remove children and their toys, as well as pets, from the area before applying pesticides or other household chemicals. Keep children and pets away until the pesticide has dried or as for long as is recommended on the label.

  • Properly close all containers and remove them from children's reach.

  • Never transfer pesticides to a container that a child may associate with food or drink (such as a soda bottle); never place rodent or insect bait where small children can get to it.

  • Read all directions before applying insect repellent to a child. Do not apply repellent over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin; do not apply it to eyes, mouth, or hands or directly on the face; and use just enough to cover exposed skin or clothing. Do not apply repellent under clothing.