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How Can You Prevent Poisoning in Kids?

Posted on Mar 22, 2021

March 21-27 is Poison Prevention Week. It’s a good time to check your home to make sure it is safe for small children. On this week’s On Call for All Kids, Petra Vybiralova Stanton, MSW, CPSTI, Safe Kids Supervisor at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, gives parents important tips to help secure items in your home.

What should we know about cleaning products?

Poison centers are seeing a spike in accidental poisonings during the coronavirus pandemic, specifically from hand sanitizers and household cleaning products. These include disinfectants and bleach.

The good news is that many families are staying safe by cleaning more; however, because of the frequent use of the cleaners, children may have easier access to cleaning products that are being left out in the open, such as on the counter, where children can easily reach them. Toddlers and children in general are constantly surprising parents with what they can do, with creative ideas, and what they can get into in the home.

It is recommended to keep all the chemicals UP AND AWAY so they are out of the reach of children. If you are storing cleaning products under the sinks in the kitchen or in the bathrooms, use one of the childproofing locks to prevent the child’s access to the chemicals.

Also, if your child happens to swallow a cleaning product, do not induce vomiting because certain products can cause chemical burns. Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

What about mixing cleaning products?

Other threats may occur when families mix cleaning products. This may not be done intentionally; however, the shortage of cleaning products in stores may lead to accidental mixing of products that are not recommended to be mixed together.

It is not recommended to ever mix cleaning products or other chemicals. When cleaning products are mixed, they may produce toxic gases that can lead to eye or skin irritation; however, in some cases, toxic gases can also lead to difficulty breathing and sometimes even death. If you or anyone else feels sick while cleaning, stop, and make sure you go outside quickly for some fresh air and call the poison center. If you or your child has a hard time breathing or feels distressed, call 911 immediately.

Are vitamins, supplements and medication a danger?

Another trend that has been observed is taking too much of vitamins and supplements. We know everyone is trying to boost their immunity and keep healthy, but we want to make sure we do not do the “too much of a good thing” scenario. This applies to all vitamins and supplements. Taking too much of them can cause unwanted outcomes. This can include upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. It is recommended that all vitamins are taken exactly as suggested on the label of the vitamin you may be taking. This applies to children as well. When it comes to over-the-counter medication, make sure you check the correct dosage for your child’s weight. It is always best to check with your doctor or pediatrician before taking anything.

Make sure you have a full list of the medications, vitamins and supplements the child is taking, so your health care provider can make sure there are no negative interactions between the things the child is taking.

Make sure you are keeping vitamins and medication in the original containers because they can look similar to candy.

What else should we consider to keep kids safe?

When it comes to chemicals, make sure all childproofing also applies to your garage and lawn care products such as weed killers and fertilizers, pool supplies, bug killers, or windshield wiper fluid.

Another thing that parents may not be aware of are cosmetics. These may be products that parents typically use, such as nail polish, rubbing alcohol, hair remover or mouthwash.

Again, it is very important, that some children may be more at risk than others. Toddlers are known to learn by touching things and putting them into their mouth. Therefore, all of the potentially toxic stuff from the garage and bathroom should be properly stored so children can’t reach it.

Children of other ages are known to get themselves into mischief when we least expect it, and that applies to all ages. If they can’t get to chemicals or you slow them down, you have a better chance of keeping them safe.

On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital experts. Visit each Monday for the latest report. 

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