Organised by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Family Safety Week, this year focuses on accidents to children around the home. In the third of our exclusively written posts, we’re giving some helpful tips and advice on how to avoid poisoning at home and how to protect children from accidental poisoning.
Now in its third year, Family Safety Week, organised by RoSPA aims to bring awareness to accidents around the home involving small children under the age of five. More than 28,000 children receive treatment every year for poisoning or suspected poisoning incidents.
With more than 90% of all poisoning accidents occurring at home, it’s important to consider the potential dangers a small child can encounter within a household setting. Many common items and objects can cause poisoning to a child including cleaning supplies, cosmetics, plants and medicines so it’s important to ensure these are out of reach of young children and locked away somewhere safe.
Examples of common poisons are:
Household products such as bleach and laundry products. Drain cleaners and toilet cleaners can cause devastating burns throughout the mouth, throat and stomach. Cleaning products can be just as harmful in causing chemical burns as a fire can be.
Foreign object such as pieces of toys, coins and batteries. Button batteries can be lethal if swallowed as, if trapped in the esophagus, they can cause severe burns and even create a hole.
Pills and tablets such as adult-strength iron pills can cause a severe reaction to a child. They are very dangerous for children to swallow and can cause a child to vomit blood.
Antifreeze can be lethal to both pets and humans. Windscreen washing fluid and antifreeze liquids have been known to cause blindness or death. Antifreeze can also cause kidney failure.
Mouthwash, cleansers, toners and hair products can sometimes have as much alcohol in them as an alcoholic beverage and can cause seizures, coma or death.
How to Keep Your Child Safe at Home: Poisoning Prevention
The most obvious advice would be to ensure all medicines and chemicals are locked away out of sight. Where possible, place them in a hard to reach cupboard where your child will not be able to get to. This includes storing personal items such as hairspray and nail varnish somewhere safe too.
Fit safety locks on cupboard doors to prevent your little one from getting in for extra peace of mind and protection. Also, make sure that bottle tops are placed on items securely and properly so that they don’t fall off. When storing household items, try and store them in a room which is most commonly used so that if your child does manage to climb into the cupboard they could be easily spotted by another member of the family.
Don’t store any chemicals, cleaning products or medicines near food as they could be mixed up by your child and they could accidentally ingest it causing a tummy upset or worse. Additionally, keep medicines in their original packaging where possible and never put chemicals or medicines, such as weedkiller in drink cartons or containers.
Medicines do come in child-resistant containers these days and you can buy these at most pharmacists and supermarkets however do be aware that child-resistant does not mean child proof. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old are much more likely to be able to get into the child-resistant tops of medication bottles and so keep them locked away with the rest of your medications.
When your child has to take medicine in order to feel better, avoid referring to it as a ‘sweet’ as it may encourage them to associate the medicine with a treat. They will not only get confused but they could ingest too much at a later date if they think it’s a sweet surprise.
Be careful with tablets or medicines that we may not realise we have such as those in bags or on bedside cabinets. A child can easily get into these and swallow something by accident.
When in the kitchen, be extra vigilant with your child around and bright coloured items such as detergent capsules or washing up liquid. They can be attractive to little hands with their bright colours and squishy covering but are really harmful to little tums and can be dangerous if they squirt out into their eyes!
Finally, if you have guests staying over or if you go to visit friends or relatives, gently ask them to clear away any potentially harmful products and keep an eye on your child at all times.
If you’d like information on falls, trips and slips please visit this article or for advice on protecting your child against burns, please read our guide here.
Have you got any tips for protecting your child against poisoning at home? Or perhaps you know of some hazards which we haven’t mentioned? Be sure to let us know by getting in touch via Facebook or Twitter.