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Keeping Your Children Safe from Poisoning in the Home and Beyond



It is not just the case of the curiosity of cats getting them into trouble, children can have the same problem.

Accidental poisoning can strike where it is least expected, meaning parents of children of all ages need to be on guard.


How common is accidental poisoning?

Approximately 90% of accidental poisonings worldwide occur within the home environment with the majority of such cases involving babies and very young children who have ingested something that could be harmful or even deadly. 

The average age of patients treated for accidental poisoning is just one year old - the age when babies start crawling around or using walking rings, managing to access unsecured cupboards to get to so many potentially toxic products. 

Curiosity and little or no understanding of the dangers of putting things in their mouths are the root of these accidental poisonings.


How to avoid accidental poisoning

  • Store any potentially poisonous or toxic items in cupboards with safety locks, making sure that those locks are used at all times.  Such items include medications, household chemicals and cleaning products, alcohol, gardening pesticides and many other common household items.
  • Keep handbags, shopping bags and hand sanitiser safely out of reach.
  • Ensure that any visitors' similar products and medications are also stored out of reach and sight of children.
  • And if you are travelling or visiting other households, you need to be extra vigilant.
  • Be sure to dispose of unused medicines safely.
  • Choose child-resistant medication packaging wherever possible.
  • NEVER store anything that is not meant for human consumption in packaging associated with food and drink. Be sure to keep cleaning products in their original packaging.
  • NEVER suggest to a child that medicines are “sweets” or “soda”.
  • NEVER assume that child proof packaging is actually so.  It may be possible for  child to bite through packaging while some some types of packages may be compromised by pressure changes, such as altitude changes when travelling by plane.


What to do if you suspect poisoning has taken place?

Do not wait for symptoms to develop but seek medical care immediately.

There is a mistaken belief that in cases of accidental poisoning, the child or person should be encouraged to vomit in order to expel the substance. In many cases, this course of action may actually cause further harm so always seek medical advice without delay.

Try to identify what poison may have been taken, and if possible establish the quantity or dose that has been consumed because these are important details for the medical professionals to determine the treatment required.

If the poison has been breathed in, move them to a well ventilated area so that they can breathe fresh air.


A final word...

Awareness and vigilance can help prevent accidents involving toxins in the home.  It is always ‘better to be safe than sorry’ and develop awareness of potential accidental poisoning risks in the home.