UK HealthCare

Poison Prevention Tips: Even Small Amounts Sicken Kids

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 4, 2011) — The following column appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Sunday, April 3, 2011.


Poison prevention tips: Even small amounts of toxins sicken kids

By Sherri Hannan

Data from the Kentucky Regional Poison Center shows that more than 50,000 Kentuckians were seen by a medical professional for poisoning in 2009. More than half of those were children.


Nationwide, more than 1.2 million children under 5 are unintentionally poisoned every year.


It's important for adults to realize that the viewpoint of young children is different from our own. Whatever young children can see and reach will often end up in their mouths. Whether it is medication on your dresser, cleaning supplies under your kitchen sink, or cosmetics in your bathroom, you can take simple steps to ensure that your kids stay safe.


If a product label says "Keep out of reach of children," there's a reason, so keep it up high and in a locked cabinet. Child-resistant packaging is credited with saving hundreds of lives since its introduction in the 1970s. Still, there is no substitute for active supervision and child-proofing.


Remember, it does not take much to make a small child sick. Almost half of all poison exposures for children under the age of 5 are caused by medicine. Children have faster metabolisms than adults and anything they ingest will be absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly.


It's a good idea to keep the number for the poison control center handy. By calling (800) 222-1222, you will reach professionals that offer fast, free, confidential help from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day. Keep the phone number near every phone in your home and program it into your cell phone.


Many issues with poisonings are resolved over the phone. However, if your child isn't breathing, is choking, having a seizure or has collapsed, call 911 immediately. Follow the 911 operator's instructions. Do not induce vomiting or give the child any fluid or medication unless directed.


Tips to Remember:


Around the House


■ Use child-resistant packages.

■ Never leave potentially poisonous household products unattended while in use.

■ Install carbon monoxide alarms.

■ Prevent CO buildup in the first place — make sure heating appliances are in good working order and used only in well-ventilated areas.

■ Don't run a car in the garage, even to warm it up; move the car outside first.

■ Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.


In the Bathroom

■ Lock up medications and other medicine out of children's sight and reach.

■ Keep products in their original containers.

■ Never refer to medicine or vitamins as "candy."

■ Always read labels and follow directions exactly.


In the Kitchen

■ Read labels and instructions on all household products.

■ Safely store household cleaners, detergents and poisons out of reach.

For more information about poison prevention or for more tips from Safe Kids Fayette County, call 323-1153, visit or on Facebook at


Sherri Hannan is a registered nurse and is coordinator of Safe Kids Fayette County, led by Kentucky Children's Hospital.