Poison Prevention

Nearly half of calls to Poison Control—1-800-222-1222 in the United States—involve young children. These calls add up to a hundred children in emergency rooms for poisoning every day. Here are some ways to keep your children safe:

  • Be on the alert for products that can be toxic—not only cleaning supplies, but make-up, art supplies, and other items. Don’t assume things are safe.
  • Make sure all medications are in their original, well-labeled containers.
  • Read labels carefully when giving medicine to children and turn the lights on.
  • Read the label and measure the dosage out every time. Don’t rely on memory or habit.
  • Don’t call medicine "candy." You needn’t be grim about it, but don’t treat your children’s medicine as fun or as an indulgence.
  • Get all medications in bottles with child-resistant packaging and replace the cap tightly when you’ve measured out a dose.
  • Do not have medications out on a table or counter. Measure out the dosage and take the medicine all at once.
  • Put medicines and toxic household products such as cleaners away as soon as you have finished with them.
  • Keep medications where children cannot get to them, ideally, locked away, out of sight, or both.
  • Keep medicine separate from other items, especially anything your child will legitimately need or is likely to (and is allowed to) get and use without supervision.
  • Keep toxic household products and medication away from food items.
  • Dispose of unused or unneeded medicine immediately.

If you fear or have reason to suspect your child has been poisoned, call the doctor or Poison Control immediately. Do not induce vomiting, but be prepared to take the child to get medical attention.

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