Kids younger than school-age are curious and can get into anything.  While there are many dangerous items that can be appealing to a small child, here are the most common potential poisons parents should monitor:

Highly concentrated laundry detergent packets and bleach

Laundry detergent and bleach for high-efficiency washers is highly concentrated.  Combine that fact with the squishy, multi-colored packs of detergent that tend to look like candy, and children are not only intrigued, but can also get quite sick with a small ingestion.  The laundry room should be blocked off from children and laundry supplies should be placed on a high shelf and put away immediately when returning from the store.

Prescription drugs and non-prescription pain medications

Many caregivers take a variety of medicines. In particular, make sure to keep diabetes, anti-depressant and heart medications away from children. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, long-acting diabetes drugs are most likely to result in children’s hospital admission and injury after accidental poisoning. Half of the children who took those drugs were kept for observation, and about 20 percent had a resulting moderate or serious injury. Even one pill of certain adult prescription medications has killed small children.  Pain medications also pose a risk, whether prescription medication like hydrocondone and tramadol or over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.  All of these medications can quickly end up in the mouth of a small child when spilled on a table or the floor.  Keep your medications in a locked medicine cabinet and in a child-safe container.  If you no longer need your prescription medications, check for safe disposal in your area.  The National Prescription Take-Back Day is April 26, 2014.

Kids’ vitamins 

While it makes it easy for kids to take their vitamins, gummy vitamins also have contributed to kids eating too many of them. The Wisconsin Poison Center gets a number of calls about young children eating handfuls of gummy vitamins.  Most of the time these calls don’t turn into a situation requiring medical attention, just an upset stomach.  However, if the vitamins contain iron, they can be dangerous in large quantities.   A good rule of thumb is to be the one in charge of dispensing your child’s vitamins and to return the bottle to the medication shelf that is either locked or out of reach.

Gasoline and paint thinners

This may seem like an odd addition to the list, but often these substances are moved to a new container that may be more accessible to children.  If even a small amount of this liquid gets ingested and aspirated into the lungs, it can cause chemical pneumonia. Do not underestimate a child’s curiosity. Keep gasoline, paint thinner, lighter fluid, furniture polish, etc. up and away from your children at all times.  If you have your child outside with you while you are working on a project, take special care to keep these substances away.

How do you safeguard your kids from common household poisons?

Meg Lesnick is the External Relations Specialist for the Wisconsin Poison Center, a program of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin located in Milwaukee.  It provides 24-hour, toll-free poison information for individuals in Wisconsin.  For a poison emergency, call 1-800-222-1222.


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