Each year, approximately 2.4 million people – more than
half under age 6 – swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some
important tips to prevent and to treat exposures to poison. Please feel free to
excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast
story, with acknowledgement of source. Spanish version.
poison proof your home:
poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home but not paying attention.
The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, liquid
nicotine, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish,
gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil. Be especially vigilant
when there is a change in routine. Holidays, visits to and from grandparents’
homes, and other special events may bring greater risk of poisoning if the
usual safeguards are defeated or not in place.
- Store medicine, cleaning and laundry products (including
detergent packets), paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original
packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of
latches that automatically lock when you close a cabinet door can help keep
children away from dangerous products, but there is always a chance the
device will malfunction. The safest place to store poisonous products is
somewhere a child can’t reach.
- Purchase and keep all
medicines in containers with safety caps and keep out of reach of children.
Discard unused medication. Note that safety caps are designed to be child
resistant but are not fully child proof.
- Never refer to medicine
as “candy” or another appealing name.
- Check the label each
time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage. For liquid
medicines, use the dosing device that came with the medicine.
- If you use an
e-cigarette, keep the liquid nicotine refills locked up out of children’s
reach and only buy refills that use child resistant packaging. Ingestion
or skin exposure with just a small amount of the liquid can be fatal to a
- Never place poisonous
products in food or drink containers.
- Keep coal, wood or
kerosene stoves in safe working order.
- Maintain working smoke
and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Secure remote controls,
key fobs, greeting cards, and musical children’s books. These and other
devices may contain small button-cell batteries that can cause injury if
your child is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures due
to poison contact or ingestion, call 911 or your local emergency number
immediately. If your child has come in contact with poison and has mild or no
symptoms, call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222.
types and methods of poisoning require different, immediate treatment:
- Swallowed poison – Take
the item away from the child, and have the child spit out any remaining
substance. Do not make your child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.
battery – If your child has swallowed a button-cell battery, seek
treatment in a hospital emergency department immediately.
- Skin poison -- Remove
the child’s clothes and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for at least 15
- Eye poison -- Flush the
child’s eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room
temperature water into the inner corner for 15 minutes.
- Poisonous fumes – Take
the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If the child has stopped
breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until
the child breathes on his or her own, or until someone can take over.
©American Academy of Pediatrics, 2/15