Is it a blue sports drink or window cleaner? Candy or a calcium supplement? Apple juice or cleaning solution? Chocolate candies or iron supplements? For us, it’s usually a no-brainer. And as awful as it may sound to us to chug from a cleaning solution container, common household substances such as this can resemble yummy food or drinks to young children. Accidental ingestion happens all too often with serious consequences. This week is National Poison Prevention Week – a week set aside to bring awareness of potential household hazards that could hurt us or our loved ones. This week reminds us to think about the dangers that could be lurking around our homes and to think about three “P’s” of poisoning – prevention, preparation and planning.
I’m not going to bore you with the basics (we all know we are supposed to lock up household cleaning products, medicines, alcohol, etc. to keep our children safe). Instead, I’ll tell you about some ideas that might help you think “out of the box” in poison-proofing your home to help keep your children safe.
Medicine is medicine – Some of the best advice I ever heard when I began raising my two boys was to never refer to medicine as “candy.” Believe me, I know from experience how difficult it is to get a toddler to cooperate and “open wide” for those awful tasting antibiotics. But it’s just not a smart move to trick them into thinking they are taking candy because they may just begin believing you, which could one day have devastating results. Children are smart and it’s never too early to begin teaching them about medicine and other household products that could potential poison them.
Learning opportunity – Since small children often like to mimic everything they see their parents do, some parents prefer not to take their medicine in front of them. However, when children do see us taking medicine, it’s a good chance for us to begin teaching them about it.
Houseguests – Remind your houseguests to keep their medicines out of the reach of children. Let Great Uncle Ernie know how important it is for him to keep his pillbox full of meds and his assortment of toiletries up and out of site when he comes for a visit.
Friends and family – It’s one thing to be tuned in to potential hazards in familiar surroundings, but what about when you’re away from home? It is especially important when visiting friends or relatives who may not have a “childproof” home to be aware of potential risks and to keep a watchful eye on your children. Something as simple as mouthwash or laundry detergent could be harmful or deadly.
Babysitters – What about the times you aren’t around to protect your kids? Going over your poison prevention plan with babysitters and older siblings is also important. Make sure emergency information is handy, as well as specific information about your children that your babysitter may need to know in the event of an emergency, such as age, height and weight of your children.
Post the Number – Keeping children safe is more than just trying to keep them away from items that can harm them. It is also about knowing what to do in the event they are exposed to a poisonous substance. In an emergency, the last thing you want to do is fumble with the phone book or get out the computer to Google the poison control number. For a poison emergency in the U.S. call 1-800-222-1222. When you dial this number, your call will be routed to the local poison center that serves your area.
Post the number near all your phones and program it into your cell phone for easy access. The Central Texas Poison Center offers small stickers that you can stick to your home phone and small magnets for your fridge so the number is right there at your fingertips if it’s ever needed.
Central Texas Poison Center – Located at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, the CTPC is a 24-hour poison emergency treatment and information resource for health care professionals and the public in Central Texas. Call 1-800-222-1222 and ask for an educator to order stickers, magnets, brochures and other poison prevention materials.
Emergency and consultative services to both the public and health care providers are available through 1-800-222-1222 or 9-1-1.