In the UK the vast majority of poisoning accidents are related to cosmetics, household cleaning items and medicines. Approximately 30,000 children receive treatment every year due to poisonous substances. In the US approximately 70,000 children are seen in Emergency Departments every year due to medicinal poisoning (80% were unsupervised children finding the medications).
To help prevent further poisoning accidents to children, please play your part and read the info below and see if there is anything you can do to make your home safer.
Safety from Poisoning Tips
- In the shed or garage, never have weed-killer, ant-killer, paints or any other poisonous items accessible to children. Keep these high up preferably in a locked cupboard. Never leave unattended while using them and put them away immediately after use.
- Ensure toys are not poisonous e.g. crayons and paint. Words such as 'non-toxic' or 'child friendly' is an indication they are safe but check the safety markings too.
- All poisonous or corrosive substances such as detergents, bleach, gardening products or medicines should be kept in a locked cupboard at high levels
- Consider adding a bittering agent to some items just in case your child does attempt to swallow/drink something poisonous. This should be a last line of defence and preventing your child getting access in the first place is obviously the main thing. But minimising the amount ingested can save a child's life.
- All cupboards should have child safety latches on them
- Child-resistant tops are useful and should be encouraged and are better than standard tops but do NOT 100% rely on these to keep out children. Most kids over the age of 3 can get into these tops eventually.
- Always store poisonous substances in their original containers and never in drinks bottles which could confuse your child
- Keep records of what should be left in each medicinal container
- Fence off or preferably remove trees or shrubs with poisonous berries. Remove toadstools and other poisonous fungi immediately. Don't encourage your child to eat berries in the garden : they cannot tell the difference between good items and bad items.
- When discarding poisonous substances (medicines, household or garden products , fungi, berries) make sure they are disposed of in such a way as to be inaccessible to children.
- Keep alcohol away from children and make sure they do not have access to it
- Have the paint in older properties tested for lead.
This is a really useful guide for parents and carers of children giving information on the the most common poisons affecting children under 6 years of age. There is a section too on CO poisoning. Finally, some great ideas are given on how to protect your family from poisons with some numbers to call in the U.S. if you're based there. Even though the contact numbers are U.S. specific, the advice is applicable worldwide.
This article was published at the end of 2014 and describes how colorful detergent pods are causing real issues for children since they resemble teething toys or candy. Young children can bite these easily and can end up in intensive care with their lives at risk in some cases.
This is a 68-page Teacher's Guide related to poisons and includes sample lesson plans to teach students from pre-school all the way up to grade 2 and upwards (i.e. between the ages of three to eight and beyond). Background information on poisons is given as well as how to prevent them, how to react after a poisoning and info on the U.S. Poison Control Center. There are plenty of activity sheets included e.g. 'Mellie and Zipper Say, Stay Away From Poisons!', 'Poison Maze #1', 'Poison Safety Ranger Badge', 'Poison Safety', 'Safety Tips to Prevent Poisonings at Your Home. ', 'Poison Safety for Your Home' and 'Poison Safety Ranger Certificate'.
This article gives some great recommendations about carbon monoxide detectors including the best locations for them. The quantity and replacement criteria are also described too.