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Childproof Your Home for Poisons

More than half (52 percent) of all poisonings treated in emergency departments involve children under the age of six. More than 2 million children ages five and under are poisoned in the US each year. Ordinary products used by adults each day around the home can become dangerous poisons in the hands of a child.

Common Childhood Poisonings in the Home
  • products stored in old bottles and cans instead of in their original containers
  • products taken out of their usual storage place and left where children can access them
  • products stored in unlocked cabinets and drawers where children have easy access
  • products visible and able to be seen by inquisitive children
  • safety packaging which is not used or child resistant closures which are not reapplied after opening
Tips to Help Reduce Unintentional Poisonings in the Home
  • Post the poison control center number near the telephone. The universal telephone number in the United States is (800) 222-1222. Calls are routed to the local poison control center.
  • Teach your child about poisons at an early age.
  • Buy and store all medicine and household products in child-resistant packaging. Remember that child-resistant does not mean childproof.
  • Store medications, household cleaners, toiletries, paints, varnishes, thinners, pesticides, fertilizers, and other dangerous products in a locked cabinet in their original, labeled containers. Use safety latches for drawers and cabinet doors.
  • Never store inedible products in food or drink containers, even when re-labeled. Children may not be able to read the label.
  • Dispose of any expired drugs by flushing them down the toilet.
  • Alcohol is poisonous to children. Never give a child an alcoholic beverage to drink - not even in small amounts. Store alcoholic beverages out of your child's reach.
  • Keep tobacco products, matches, lighters, and ashtrays out of your child's reach.
  • Know your household and outdoor plants by name. Keep poisonous plants away from your child.
  • Crawl through your rooms and put yourself at eye level, checking every place your children may go on their hands and knees. Be sure to properly discard anything that could be harmful.
  • Do not take medication in front of your child; children are great imitators. Do not tell your child that medication is candy in order to get your child to take it.
  • Read labels thoroughly every time you give medication. Many children are accidentally poisoned when given the wrong medication or the wrong dose. Mistakes often occur in the middle of the night, so be sure to turn on a light when giving medication.
  • Read labels on all products you purchase before you buy or use them. Buy products that are the least toxic ones for the job.
  • Be careful when visiting others, staying in hotels, or having visitors in your home. Purses and suitcases are inviting objects for children to explore.
  • When answering the phone or doorbell, take poisonous products that you are using with you. Do not make them available to your child for even a moment.

Child-resistant lids will now go on certain common household products:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted in 2002 to require safety caps on a variety of commonly used household products. The products, all oily hydrocarbon products, are thin and slippery and can easily suffocate children if the substances are drawn into their lungs when drinking them. The products can cause chemical pneumonia, by coating the inside of the lungs. The new regulation will take effect within 12 months. Products that will be required to have a safety lid include:

  • baby oils
  • sunscreens
  • nail enamel dryers
  • hair oils
  • bath, body, and massage oils
  • makeup removers
  • some automotive chemicals (gasoline additives, fuel injection cleaners, and carburetor cleaners)
  • cleaning solvents (wood oil cleaners, metal cleaners, spot removers, and adhesive removers)
  • some water repellents containing mineral spirits used for decks, shoes, and sports equipment
  • general-use household oil
  • gun-cleaning solvents containing kerosene

Oil products that are thicker and more "syrupy" are not a problem, since they are not easily inhaled into the lungs.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Common Childhood Injuries & Poisonings

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