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Poison alert: 6 stay-safe steps to preventing household accidents

Accidental poisoning remains a leading cause of childhood injury and death, with our littlest ones at greatest risk. Children ages 4 and younger accounted for 80 percent of poisoning-related emergency room visits by kids in 2002, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. Young children are more susceptible because their small size and faster metabolism make them less able to handle toxins. What’s more, their natural curiosity means they put everything in their mouths. To them, dishwasher soap granules resemble candy sprinkles, bleach looks like water and brightly colored cologne or mouthwash could be juice.

You’ll need to take some serious preventive action to avoid accidents. Start your childproofing measures by looking at everything in your home—from plants to cosmetics—as a potential snack and follow these tips:

  1. Ask for child-resistant caps on all medications and vitamins. Keep all drugs in their original containers with lids tightly closed and locked in a cabinet.
  2. Keep cleaning solutions in their original containers. If you use juice or milk bottles to store such fluids, a child may take a drink, thinking it’s OK. Always return products to safe storage immediately after use.
  3. Be aware of any medicines that visitors bring into your home. Don’t allow Grandma to leave medicines in her purse or suitcase, where your child can easily find them.
  4. Don’t leave your children alone with household products. If you stop to answer the phone, take your child with you. Most poisonings occur when the product is in use and the child is unsupervised. Remember: Most accidents occur in the blink of an eye.
  5. Check your home or yard for poisonous plants. Place plants so your child can’t get to them; otherwise, remove them.
  6. Check your garage for gasoline containers or other toxic chemicals and make sure they are in a place where your child can’t reach them. Locked cabinets work best.