Common Household Poisons

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Children 1-3 years of age are most likely to put everything in their mouths. This includes poisons that are normally available in the household. It is not surprising to note that poisoning occurs most often among children less than five years of age. Parents and babysitters should be aware of the common household poisons as well as effective ways on preventing accidental poisoning. To learn how to recognize and manage a child that has been poison signpoisoned sign up for workplace approved standard first aid and CPR training.

Although poisoning can happen anywhere in the house, many cases of poisoning involving children occur at certain places in the house, particularly in the kitchen, medicine cabinet, laundry or shed, and the bathroom. Below are some of the common household products that can be found in these locations and also some tips on how you can protect your child:

1.     The Kitchen

Some kitchen products that can cause poisoning include:

  • Ammonia
  • Dishwashing solutions
  • Cream cleaners
  • Ammonia
  • Alcohol
  • Bleaching solutions and disinfectants
  • Kerosene
  • Cleaners (drain, floor and window cleaners)
  • Oven cleaners
  • Insect and rat poisons
  • Matches

To prevent poisoning, you should:

  • Store medicines, chemicals and cleaners in child-proof cupboards.
  • Install child-resistant lock on cabinets and cupboards, especially if within child’s reach.
  • Do not remove chemicals, cleaners and medicines from their original containers. Never pour them into used bottles or containers of food products.
  • Safely dispose used products. Check cupboard regularly and dispose unnecessary contents.
  • If possible, choose products that do not contain harmful chemicals or are less dangerous. For example, choosing organic cleaners over corrosive, chemical-based cleaners.
  • Use child-resistant containers, especially for corrosive or strong chemicals.
  • Keep children away when adding detergent to the dishwasher. When using dishwasher, put the detergent last then close the machine immediately.
  • Check for caking of powder (sludge) near or inside the dispenser when unloading it. These especially important if young children are helping to empty the dishwasher, take note that sludge can cause serious mouth burns. Check the operating manual on how to prevent sludge formation.

2.     The laundry or shed

Some laundry products that can cause poisoning include:

  • Acids (such as brick cleaning solutions)
  • Drain cleaners
  • Disinfectant and bleach
  • Dyes
  • Epoxies and resins
  • Glues
  • Garden chemicals
  • Industrial supplies
  • Car care products
  • Stain removers
  • Petrol

To prevent poisoning, you should:

  • Keep all products that may contain poison out of children’s reach.
  • Lock up the garage, laundry or shed.
  • Keep all chemicals in their original containers.

3.     The medicine cabinet

Some medicine cabinet products that can cause poisoning include:

  • All prescription or non-prescription medicine
  • Alcohol
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Antiseptic solutions

To prevent poisoning, you should:

  • Always remember that medicines are the leading causes of poisoning in children. Keep medicines away from children’s reach and avoid leaving medicines in places accessible to children.
  • Use child-resistant cabinet or cupboard for your medicine cabinet.
  • Never refer tablets or pills as candies when giving medication to a child. They may be tempted to try them.
  • Keep droppers and measuring cups in a separate and safe location.
  • Before giving any medication, read the prescription and medication label carefully.
  • Safely dispose or return to the pharmacist expired or unneeded medications.
  • Avoid self-medication.

4.     The bathroom

Some bathroom products that can cause poisoning include:

  • Shower, bathroom or tile cleaners
  • Make-up products (such as nail-polish remover or lipstick)
  • Mouthwashes
  • Gels and moisturizers
  • Perfumes and aftershaves
  • Liquid hair and skin products (soaps, lotions and body wash)
  • Toilet cleaner

To prevent poisoning, you should:

  • Keep bathroom products out of reach.
  • Never leave children unattended when using the bathroom.

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