12:00 PM

11 Tips to Help Prevent Childhood Poisonings

Ordinary products you use each day around your home can become dangerous poisons in the hands of a child. Poisoning is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In the Annual Report of the National Poison Control Centers, it is estimated that nearly half of poison exposures each year occur in children younger than 6 years old.1

That’s why specialists at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) offer this list of tips to help you prevent accidental poisonings in your home.

  1. Post the poison control center phone number – 800-222-1222 – where you can easily see it. Tip: Program the poison helpline into your phone.

  2. Teach your child about poisons at an early age.

  3. Store all medicine, vitamins and household products in child-resistant packaging. “But remember that child-resistant doesn’t mean childproof,” says Debra Carter, MD, with LVPG Pediatrics–Trexlertown.

  4. Keep medicines, vitamins, iron supplements, household cleaners, detergent pods, toiletries, paints, varnishes, paint thinners, pesticides, fertilizers and other household chemicals in a locked cabinet. Make sure they are in their original, labeled containers. Use safety latches for drawers and cabinet doors.

  5. Never store nonfood products in food or drink containers, even when relabeled. “Children may not be able to read the label and may mistake them for food,” Carter says.

  6. Throw out any expired medicines. Ask your pharmacist if you aren’t sure how to dispose of a medicine.

  7. Store alcohol and alcoholic beverages out of your child’s reach.

  8. Keep tobacco products, matches, lighters and ashtrays out of your child’s reach.

  9. Crawl through your rooms and put yourself at a child’s eye level, checking every place your children may go on their hands and knees.

  10. Read labels thoroughly every time you give medicine. Many children are accidentally poisoned when given the wrong medicine or the wrong dose. “Mistakes often occur in the middle of the night, so be sure to turn on a light when giving medicine,” Carter says.

  11. Be careful with items that contain small button batteries. These include remote controls, toys and key fobs. The batteries can cause injury if a child swallows them.

Visit LVHN.org/children to learn more about Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital and to find a health care provider for the kids in your life.

1Poison Control Center Data Snapshot