From fertilizer to antifreeze and medicines to makeup, poisonous items show up throughout our homes. Here are some important ways to help prevent kids from ingesting a poisonous substance.
Don't rely on packaging to protect your kids — child-resistant packaging does not mean childproof packaging.
Never prepare or give medication to a child in the dark: You may give the wrong dosage or even the wrong medication.
Never leave vitamin bottles, aspirin bottles, or other medications on kitchen tables, countertops, bedside tables, or dresser tops. Small children may decide to try to copy adults and help themselves.
Never tell a child that medicine tastes like candy.
Store all medications — prescription and nonprescription — in a locked cabinet, far from kids' reach. Even items that seem harmless, such as mouthwash, can be extremely dangerous if ingested in large quantities by children. Just because cabinets are up high doesn't mean kids can't get their hands on what's in them — they'll climb up (using the toilet and countertops) to get to items in the medicine cabinet.
Make sure purses and bags — yours and guests' — that could contain poisonous items such as medications are kept out of the reach of kids at all times.
Always keep pills and liquids in their original containers.
Try to keep a record of how many pills are left in a prescription container.
Be aware of all medications in your home (and in those of relatives if your kids spend a lot of time there).
Never leave cosmetics and toiletries within easy reach of children. Be especially cautious with perfume, hair dye, hairspray, nail and shoe polish, and nail polish remover.
Keep kids away from houseplants — and plants around your yard — that can be poisonous. Either put plants out of reach or buy only plants that are nonpoisonous. A few examples of toxic houseplants include: rhododendron, English ivy, lily of the valley, and holiday plants such as holly and mistletoe.
Discard used button cell batteries (like those in watches) safely, and store any unused ones far from kids' reach (alkaline substances are poisonous).
If you're expecting a baby or you already have a child, it's wise to:
Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the abdominal thrust procedure (the Heimlich maneuver).
Keep the following numbers near the phone (for yourself and caregivers):
poison-control number: 1-800-222-1222
parents' work and cell phone numbers
neighbor's or nearby relative's number (if you need someone to watch other kids in an emergency)
Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside.
Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
To check your childproofing efforts, get down on your hands and knees in every room of your home to see things from a child's perspective. Be aware of your child's surroundings and what might be potentially dangerous.
Completely childproofing your home can be difficult. If you can't childproof the entire house, you can shut the doors (and install doorknob covers) to any room a child shouldn't enter to prevent wandering into places that haven't been properly childproofed. For sliding doors, doorknob covers and childproof locks are also great for keeping little ones from leaving your home.
Of course, how much or how little you childproof your home is up to you. Supervision is the very best way to help prevent kids from getting injured. However, even the most vigilant parent can't keep a child 100% safe at all times.
Whether you have a baby, toddler, or school-age child, your home should be a haven where your little one can explore safely. After all, touching, holding, climbing, and exploring are the activities that develop your child's body and mind.