Six tips to protect your kids from household poisonings

Through the eyes of a toddler, the world is a collection of fascinating shapes and sizes and colors. Some of those colorful shapes contain things that taste pretty good when Mom or Dad pour them into a bowl or cup.

The problem is when things that don’t taste so good — that might even be poisonous — come in similar colorful shapes. And curious kids decide to take matters into their own hands — grabbing the big bottle of disinfecting cleanser that looks a lot like apple juice — when their frazzled parents step out of sight.

“A lot of our chemicals and cleaners are bright, fun colors like our sports drinks and our juices,” said Mandy Fultz with Safe Kids San Antonio in an interview with KSAT TV. “If your child isn’t of reading age yet, they may confuse the two,”

Need to know household safety tips

University Health is the lead partner of Safe Kids San Antonio. The advocacy group shares tips you need to know to help keep household cleaners and other toxic products out of reach from your children.

  1. Store all household products out of sight and reach. Young kids are often eye-level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Move bleach, detergents, dishwasher liquid or cleaning solutions to a more secure place.
  2. Install child safety locks on cabinets containing toxic items. It’s fast, easy and cheap.
  3. Read product labels for potential hazards. Dangerous household items include makeup, personal care products, plants, pesticides, lead, art supplies, alcohol and carbon monoxide.
  4. Don’t leave toxic substances unattended while you’re using them — to answer the phone or the doorbell.
  5. Keep cleaning products in their original containers. Never put poisonous products in a plastic soda bottle, for example, where it could be easily mistaken for something else.
  6. Get rid of old medicines and other toxic substances. Survey storage areas and your garage for products you don’t need any more.

And remember, if your child does swallow something potentially dangerous and isn't acting normally, call the South Texas Poison Center at 800-222-1222. If your child isn’t responsive or is behaving abnormally - call 911.

Where your child can find common household poisons

To keep your kids safe from household poisons, identify areas that have potential hazards. Here are a few places where common household poisons are found:

  • Garage: Antifreeze, windshield cleaner, gasoline, charcoal lighter, pesticides, fertilizers, garden chemicals, fungicides and flea and pest powder.
  • Bedrooms: Cosmetics, cologne, hair spray, nail polish and remover, mothballs, medications and vitamins.
  • Bathroom or laundry room: Pine oil, drain and toilet cleaners, bleach, disinfectants, detergents, detergent pods and aerosol sprays.
  • Kitchen: Insect killer, metal polish, alcohol, dishwashing detergent and oven cleaner.
  • Home workshop: Solder, lead, cadmium, formaldehyde, solvents, paint and paint thinner.

What do I do if I suspect my child has swallowed something poisonous?

If you think your child has swallowed something they shouldn’t have, make sure to take the following steps:

  • Remain calm. This will let you make good decisions. It will also show your child that you are in control of the situation and that things will be OK.
  • Call 911, your local emergency number, or the poison control center at 800-222-1222.
  • Read the label of the swallowed product to the healthcare provider.
  • Follow the instructions of the healthcare provider exactly. Don’t make your child throw up. Vomiting can cause further damage. This is especially true if the child has swallowed lye, dishwashing detergents, drain cleaners or paint thinners.

Watch Mandy Fultz, Safe Kids Project Coordinator at University Health, as she discusses cleaning products that look similar to foods children might like.

University Health’s emergency medicine doctors and nurses work together to efficiently assess your condition and determine the next best steps. For more information about poisonings, contact our injury prevention program at 210-358-4295.

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