The National Poison Control Center reports that each year, more than two million people—about half under the age of 6—swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance. This mostly happens when parents or caregivers are home but not paying attention. And did you know that the most dangerous potential poisons are regular household items? Things like medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene, and lamp oil are all causes of accidental poisoning incidents in the home.

It’s National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25, and the American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to prevent and treat exposures to poison.

7 ways to prevent poison exposures in your home:

  • Store all poisonous substances in their original packaging in locked containers and cabinets, out of sight and reach of children. (Remember, even if a cabinet or door has safety features or latches, they aren’t always child-proof.)
  • Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps and keep out of reach of children. Note that child-proof caps are meant to be child-resistant but may still be accessible by your child.
  • Discard any unused medications.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or any other appealing name.
  • Check the label each time you give a child a medication to ensure proper dosage. For liquid medications, use the dosing device that came with it. Never use a kitchen spoon.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Secure remote controls, key fobs, greeting cards, and musical children’s books. These and other devices may contain small button-cell batteries than can cause serious injury if ingested.

If your child is unconscious, not breathing or having convulsions or seizures due to poison or ingestion, CALL 911 immediately. If your child has come in contact with poison and has mild or no symptoms, call Poison Help at 1.800.222.1222.

5 Types of Poisons & How to Treat Them

That being said, different types and methods of poisoning require different action:

  • Swallowed poison: Take the item immediately away from the child, and have the child spit out anything remaining. DO NOT make your child vomit or use syrup of ipecac.
  • Swallowed battery: If your child has swallowed a button-cell battery seek treatment in an Emergency Department immediately. Serious damage can occur in as little as two hours.
  • Skin poison: Remove the child’s clothes and rinse their skin with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes
  • Eye poison: Flush the child’s eyes by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the inner corner for 15 minutes.
  • Poisonous fumes: Take the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If they have stopped breathing, start CPR immediately and do not stop until the child breathes on their own or until someone can take over.

Talk to your NHA provider about additional ways to prevent poisoning occurrences in your home. Please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics for additional information.