Is your child safe from household poisons?


ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — This is National Poison Prevention Week.   Every year, 52,000 children visit an emergency room due to an accidental poisoning. That's 142 a day -- or 1 every ten minutes.

"One of the more common poisonings that we see overall in all age groups is acetaminophen, the generic name for Tylenol," said Julie Weber, director of the Missouri Poison Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.  "That really seems to be something that children get into because often they can reach it and it has a good taste.  Or adults misdose on it or take too much of it."

Weber says accidental injestion of cleaning products is also very common.

"Household products such as cleaners, bleach, Windex.  Different things that we leave out as we are cleaning and using in our home are very accessible and available to young children," said Weber.  "Kids between the ages of 2 and 3 find those products intriguing and get into them." So what tips does she have for parents to try to prevent these accidental poisonings?

"Our number one thing is with any type of potential poisons, we really want them kept up high and if possible locked in a cabinet," said Weber. "The best thing is to keep them out of sight because then the child isn't even enticed by them or would want to get into them.  So up high, locked cabinets.  With medications, always make sure that the child-resistant cap is on and always leave things in the original bottle with the original label."  And just because the medicine bottle has a childproof cap, Weber says you can't always depend on that to be foolproof. 

"It's there to slow them down, but it doesn't 100-percent keep them out," said Weber.  "It has helped prevent some exposures, but children still can manipulate those lids and get them off." Another piece of advice -- don't lure your child into taking medicine by calling it candy.

"I think what always comes to my mind first is red hots," said Weber. "They look like Sudafed, a decongestant tablet, and really, when we say it's candy, it's giving the child the wrong message.  We don't want them to think that it's good.  It's something to help them, but it's not a treat." Weber says if your child does swallow a potentially harmful item, give the Missouri Poison Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital a call right away at 1-800-222-1222.

"If they are coughing or choking, you want to wipe out their mouth first, but then call us immediately," said Weber.  "We don't want people going to the internet to look up the product or ingredients, just bring the container to the phone, make the call and then one of our registered pharmacists or nurses who are specially trained can help answer the question." "The call is free and totally confidential," said Weber.