Accidents with poison usually happen at home, so there are a lot of potential hazards in and outside the home that parents and caregivers should be aware of. Even though elementary kids are more cautious of small objects and things that can harm them than toddlers are, there are still everyday products they may not know are dangerous. If parents and caregivers take time to look around the house, in the garage and in their yards, they can help make sure these harmful products don’t get in the hands of their young children.
Poisons can be taken in several ways. Here is a list of the most common:
- Ingested (taken by mouth)
- Inhaled (smelled)
- Absorption (on skin or through eyes)
Many products that people use daily can be harmful to children if taken in by mouth, inhaled or absorbed through the skin or eyes. The following lists some, but not all, items in and out of the house that pose a threat. It is always good to err on the side of caution and put products out of reach of children if you are unsure of their safety.
Oftentimes adults will use old water bottles or disposable cups to get rid of poisonous substances. However, children recognize these as items to drink or eat from and may accidentally ingest or inhale them not knowing what it is. Remember to use other containers and make sure to get rid of them immediately so that you don’t leave it around unknowingly.
Why it Matters
Children do not always know what is and is not harmful to their health. This is especially true for things that smell good or look like liquids and foods they are familiar with. That is why it is important to both educate children about poisonous substances and to also make sure they cannot reach them.
Take a look at this checklist and compare it to what you are currently doing in your own home. Make time to make your surroundings safe for kids and to also talk to them about what is poisonous and what may happen if they ingest, inhale or touch these products.
- Store medicine, cleaning products and laundry products in locked places.
- Use safety latches that automatically lock when you close them.
- Make sure medications, vitamins, and any other substance has a safety cap and are out of reach
- Keep make up, hair and skin products closed and out of reach.
- Keep cigarettes (including vaping pens and cartridges) and alcohol out of reach.
- Keep appliances in good working order and locked up so kids don’t hurt themselves
- Keep smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and in good working order
Connect & Communicate:
The best thing you can do for your child’s safety, is to proof your home so that they don’t have access to poisonous substances. It is also important to talk to your children early and often about what products in the house are dangerous and how it can affect their health. When you talk to them bout poisons, make sure to point out that it is not always obvious what is or is not harmful based on the way things look or smell. Some key points to discuss are:
- Some things look like candy but are actually medicine. If they eat them it could be poisonous.
- Even things that are packaged well, look tasty and smell good can contain poison.
- Not all liquids in a bottle or cup are safe. Never drink something in one unless you talk to an adult first and they reassure you that it’s safe.
- Use the correct term for medicine and don’t call it “candy.”
- Tell them to get an adult if they or someone they know swallowed, inhaled or touched something they aren’t sure is safe.
Books and activities that you can read and discuss with your child (NOTE: The books list is at the end of this document in Appendix A https://nmpoisoncenter.unm.edu/education/pub-ed/upload_files/docs/ext_poison_pat.pdf
Poison Control Activity Book: http://floridapoisoncontrol.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Activity-Book-English11.pdf
Contact & Collaborate:
If you suspect that your child has been in contact with a poisonous substance, call poison control immediately. It is better to be safe, and they will be supportive in helping you determine what to do next. Place this number in your phone and around your house for easy access.
Poison Contro:l 1-800-222-1222
Poison Control Website: https://www.poison.org/
Find out what some common poisonous plants are in your area
Find out what some common poisonous bugs are in your area
Poison Prevention Tips Elementary School Children: A list of different products and may cause harm to children at this age https://www.poison.org/poison-prevention-tips-by-age/elementary
Poison! A podcast about poison control (podcast) https://www.poison.org/articles/podcast