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5 tips for reducing the risk of poisonings in your home
General Wellness

5 tips for reducing the risk of poisonings in your home

By Jamie J. Hardy PharmD, BCPS, MS, Clinical Pharmacist | Methodist University Hospital
Posted: March 26, 2020

Schools across the country are closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and children that were expected to be in a classroom are at home during all hours of the day.

Life for many people has been turned upside down. You might be working from a makeshift home office. While your child was expected to be doing a math assignment, they might be getting into something, unbeknownst to you, that could be harmful to their health.

Approximately two-million poison exposures are recorded in the United States every year. Nearly half of those cases (44%) are children under the age of six, according to the National Capital Poison Center.

Many of these poison exposures happen at home.

Substances that can be poisonous for people are readily found in cleaning products,  medications and other items. They are commonly kept in places that children have access to — like kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, basements, garages and even inside bedrooms.

Nearly 77% of all poison exposures reported to U.S. poison centers in 2018 were unintentional. But in children under six, that percentage spikes to a staggering 99.4%.

Kids get into things and accidents happen. Here are some tips to help keep your family safe from poisonings:

Keep poisonous substances out of reach.

Children are curious. Cleaning products and liquid detergents can be easily reached and mistaken for bottled juices. Keeping them in hard to reach places is ideal.

Medications due to their size, shape and color are often mistaken for candy by children. Keeping them out of sight and out of their reach is recommended.


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Observe proper disposal.

Decrease the opportunity for children to access poisonous substances by removing empty or near-empty cleaning containers from the house.

Dispose of expired and old medications instead of keeping them in the home. This decreases the chance of children gaining access to them.

Store food and household cleaners in separate places.

Unintended contamination is one of the most common causes of poison exposure for both children and adults. Be sure to store food and beverages away from your cleaning products. Keeping them in separate places reduces the chance accidental ingestion due to contamination.

Follow directions when taking and giving medicines.

Many people keep over-the-counter (OTC) medications at home. Before giving and taking OTC products, read the labels and follow the instructions.

Accidental poisonings can occur by taking higher than the recommended dose of products sold over the counter. Consult with a pharmacist or your physician with questions.

Utilize community resources.

The poison control center has a hotline that is open 24/7. The phone number is 1-800-222-1222.

Memorize this number or place it on or near every home telephone — in addition to saving it on your cellphone. Contact these experts immediately when you know or suspect that someone in your home is experiencing a poisoning.

Still Have Questions About Your Overall Health?

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