Protect children by storing poisons safely

Donna Krug, K-State Extension
Donna Krug

National Poison Prevention Week is observed during the third week of March every year and exists to highlight the risk of being poisoned by household products. Take a peek under your kitchen sink or in your laundry room and there may be several things that could be dangerous. Household cleaning agents, prescription medications, pesticides, and other items can pose serious hazards to the health and well-being of our families and even our pets. National Poison Prevention Week is here to raise awareness of these dangers and to make sure we are all mindful of what lurks in our own homes.

Over 2 million potential poisonings are reported in the U.S every year, with over 90% of these occurring in the home and the majority of them being young children. Every day over 300 children require treatment in an emergency department, with an average of two deaths per day being recorded. Most of these incidents revolve around highly toxic household items such as cleaning products and medicine.

Is your house child proofed? If you have curious little ones around you will need to be aware that curiosity can turn dangerous and poisoning can happen in an instant. If a product label says ‘keep out of reach of children,’ there is a reason.  Keep those dangerous things up high and in a locked cabinet. Almost half of poison exposures for children under the age of 5 are caused by medicine.  Children have faster metabolisms than adults and anything they ingest will be absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly.

Safe Kids USA offers these tips regarding poison prevention:

Lock up potential poisons out of sight and reach of kids.  This includes makeup, medicine, plants, cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies, and beer, wine and liquor.

Never leave kids alone with an open container of something you would not want them to ingest.  A child can be poisoned in a matter of seconds.

Do not refer to medicine or vitamins as candy and do not involve children as helpers with your medication. 

Choose medicines and products that have child-resistant caps.  When you are giving medicine to your children, follow dosage directions carefully.

Keep products in their original containers. Some concentrated citrus cleaners look like orange kool-aid when diluted. This can be very dangerous if placed in an unmarked spray bottle. Read labels to learn if a product is poisonous and for the first aid information. A few years ago I shared an educational program titled, “Dangerous Look-a-likes” and it was amazing how many dangerous items in the home resemble common food or beverage items. 

Know which plants in and around your home can be poisonous.

Discuss these precautions with grandparents and caregivers.  They may have medications that can be very dangerous to children and their homes might not be as well childproofed as yours.

A final reminder for parents is to learn the toll-free poison control center number.  1-800-222-1222. Keep it near every phone in your home and program it into your cell phone.  This number connects you to your local poison control center from anywhere in the United States.

Donna Krug is the District Director and Family & Consumer Science Agent in the Cottonwood Extension District. You may reach her at: (620)793-1910 or dkrug@ksu.edu