Once children are in elementary school, they are more familiar with the concept of accidental ingestion of a poison. But kids have a natural curiosity, and they often don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Children may think they know what something is, but because it is in a different container or it looks the same as another substance, they ingest something harmful.
Parents should watch out for the following:
Whether it is insect repellant, roach spray, rodent poison or flea and tick shampoo for the dog — all of these pesticides can harm a child. Children may not know the difference between one container and another and accidently spray, touch or smear one of these substances in their mouth or eyes. Keep your children away from these substances, keep them away while these are being applied in your home, store pesticides in the original containers, use child-resistant packaging correctly and teach your children that “pesticides are poisons” and not to be touched.
2. Personal care products, like hair dye or nail polish remover
Nail polish remover is found in many households but it isn’t something that we readily associate with accidental poisonings. In reality, because it is a brightly colored liquid, it can be ingested by a child relatively easily. Acetone (the chemical in nail polish remover) poisoning can be very dangerous. It’s important to keep this is a substance away from children.
3. Cleaning solutions
Children have been known to spray or ingest window cleaners, furniture polish and toilet bowl cleaner especially after they have been transferred into another container. All of these substances have ingredients that can be harmful to a small child. Keep all cleaning products up and away or store them in a locked cabinet. In addition, remember to remove the cleaning product from a smaller child’s reach before you move onto a different task or become distracted.
4. Medications that are brightly colored or resemble candy
These are the years that candy is the most enticing. Younger children are extremely interested in anything that closely resembles a candy look-alike. Some pills are shiny, circular and brightly colored, with no markings. Remember to store your medications in a safe place, away from children. In addition, properly dispose of your old or unused prescription medications.
5. Ethanol from mouthwash
Most poisonings involving young children and alcohol are from personal care products. Mouthwash is not required to have a child-safe cap; it is brightly colored and does not specify alcohol level. Children’s bodies absorb alcohol quickly. Keep all products that contain alcohol away from children.
- Meg Lesnick, external relations specialist, Wisconsin Poison Center
The Wisconsin Poison Center, located in Milwaukee, provides 24-hour, toll-free poison information for all individuals in Wisconsin. For any poison emergency, call (800) 222-1222