We’ve made a lot of progress in reducing the number of children who are accidentally poisoned each year. Much of the credit is due to public education on the topic.
In the 1960s, more than 450 children under the age of 5 were dying from accidental poisoning each year. That total has fallen to about 30. But it’s still too high.
Simple precautions remain critical:
- Keep medicines in their original childproof containers, stored out of reach.
- Follow the doctor’s instructions carefully when giving medicine to children.
- Store household cleaners safely — a high percentage of poisonings involve everyday cleaning products, cosmetics, cough and cold remedies, antibiotics, and vitamins.
- Teach children never to eat anything you haven’t approved.
A typical household contains products such as bleach, fertilizers, or paint stripper that can be fatal to a child.
If your child swallows a poison, you must act quickly and calmly:
If the child is conscious, determine exactly what was swallowed. The child could lose consciousness at any time.
Call 9-1-1 or the local poison control center.
Have the container on hand so you can tell the center the exact contents of what was swallowed. If the child must go to the hospital, be sure to take the poison container with you for the doctors there.
Stay calm and give the professionals short, precise answers, because time is often critical.