Child Health, Family Health Tamar Raucher | 6 years ago

Poisoning Can Happen in an Instant

Although the word poison brings to mind images of a container of something dangerous, clearly marked with a skull and cross-bones, dangerous chemicals exist everywhere in our homes.

“The term ‘baby-proofing’ is only the beginning of keeping kids safe,” says Andrew W. Gunter, MD, from University Pediatrics, part of Carolinas HealthCare System. “Babies crawl, but toddlers are the ones opening doors, drawers and cabinets of all heights. I often explain to parents that mobility changes everything.” Household cleaners, air fresheners, laundry detergents and medications are all potential hazards to adults and kids.

Prevention Tips

Prevention is always better than treatment after an accident occurs. The following recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help:
  • Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
  • Move all chemicals far out of your kids’ reach, and lock all cabinets.
  • Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gasses.
  • Keep children out of any area where pesticides or other chemicals are being sprayed.
  • Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as a household cleaners.
  • Keep all devices with small button batteries well away from young children, and if swallowed, immediately go to the emergency department.
  • Store all medications well out of reach and in safety-capped containers.
  • Dispose of expired medications by dropping them off at any one of the seven CMC-Rx area locations. (Visit to find one near you.)
  • Do not call medications “candy” when convincing children to take it.
  • Always check and double-check that you are giving a proper dose. Turn on a light when you give or take medicines at night.
  • Only give your child prescription medications that are prescribed by a healthcare professional.
  • Follow directions on the label when you give or take medicines. Read all warning labels.
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
  • Monitor the use of medicines prescribed for children and teenagers, such as medicines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Nearly 10 out of every 100,000 North Carolina residents died from an unintentional poisoning in 2010, according to the NC Division of Public Health. If a poisoning happens or is suspected – or you suspect your child may have taken more medication than prescribed – you can call Carolinas Poison Center any time, day or night, at 800-222-1222.