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Poisoning: Prevention


  • Remember to keep drugs and chemicals locked up or out of reach of children. Think about where you keep drain cleaners, furniture polish, drugs, and insecticides. These are the most common dangerous poisons.
  • Keep alcoholic beverages also out of a child's reach. Alcoholic beverages have caused serious poisonings. As little as 3 ounces of hard liquor can kill a 2-year-old child. Remember that most mouthwashes contain 15% to 25%.
  • Whenever you or your child is prescribed a new drug, remember to keep the safety cap on and make sure that you are giving the right dose.
  • Don't leave drugs on countertops, especially when you are called away to the door or telephone.
  • Don't leave drugs in a purse because children often search them for candy or gum. When you have guests, keep purses out of reach of children.
  • Always read the label before giving any medicine. Be sure it's the right drug and that you are giving the correct dosage. Don't give medicines in the dark.
  • Know the names of all your houseplants and remove any (for example, Dieffenbachia) that could cause sickness other than vomiting or diarrhea. Teach your child never to put leaves, stems, seeds, or berries from any plant into her mouth without your permission.
  • Don't store any chemicals in soft drink bottles. Don't put gasoline into any type of food or beverage container.
  • Keep the telephone number of the Poison Control Center handy.
  • Remember that kids often get into poisons simply to satisfy their curiosity. Telling a young child not to put something in their mouth is not enough to prevent poisoning. To prevent poisonings, parents have to consistently supervise where young children are and what they are doing.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2004-03-16
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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