Access to toxic household substances is a serious problem. According to the Centers of Disease Control, over 300 children in the United States are treated each day in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned. 80 percent of those were due to a lack of supervision. In addition to emergency visits, the American Association of Poison Centers estimates that poison centers answer more than 3.6 million calls each year, half of which are for children under 6 years old.
These are some common household poisons that may harm small children if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed:
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications, including vitamins
- Cleaning supplies, including furniture polish, dishwasher detergent, oven cleaner, and toilet bowl cleaner
- Alcoholic beverages
- Toiletries, including nail polish and remover, mouthwash, and hair treatments (perms, relaxers)
- Outdoor chemicals, including pesticides, weed killer, gasoline, rust remover, paint thinner, lighter fluid, antifreeze, kerosene, lamp oil, and windshield washer fluid.
The best defense against accidental poisoning is to thoroughly babyproof your house. All toxic substances should be locked up and stored out of reach. When visiting someone else’s home with your children, use extra supervision.
If your child comes in contact with any of these substances (or any others you are unsure of), call 911 or the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222. It’s a good idea to save the Poison Help Line number on your autodial and as one of your frequent contacts in your cell phone, so you don’t have to look it up in an emergency situation.
Reviewed by Dr. Kristie Rivers, September 2020
- More than 300 children in the United States are treated each day in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned.
- Poisons are everywhere, including cleaning supplies, toiletries, and gasoline.
- Baby proof your house to avoid accidental poisoning.
- Save the Poison Help Line number in your phone for emergency situations.