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Poison Awareness During the Pandemic

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Tens of thousands of children under the age of 6 end up in emergency rooms each year due to accidental poisoning. The COVID-19 pandemic – which has forced families to spend more time at home, and pushed parents to keep larger supplies of chemicals, like alcohol-based hand sanitizer, on-hand – has made poison prevention awareness more important than ever.

It’s not just cleaners and chemicals parents need to be aware of. We have more prescription and over-the-counter medications in our homes today than ever before. How families, use, store and monitor their child’s access to these substances can make a big impact on poison safety in the home, which is where the vast majority of exposures occur.

So what are the best ways to keep your family safe? The team at Alice Hyde Pediatrics has tips to help you ensure your family is practicing safe habits and is prepared in the event of a poisoning emergency.

Prepare

The first thing every family can do is ensure they have the right resources close-at-hand in the event your child does experience an accidental exposure. Save the Poison Help number in your phone and post it so temporary caregivers like your babysitter know where it is and can find it quickly in an emergency. Specialists at poison control centers provide free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, and can help with poison emergencies and answer questions about medicine safety.

The number is 1-800-222-1222.
 

Prevent

Preventing your child from getting into medicine or chemicals may seem simple, but keeping your home safe from potential accidental poison exposures is often easier said than done. While most parents agree on the basic tenets of poison safety, putting them into practice isn’t always so easy.

For example, did you know that while 9 in 10 parents agree that medicine should be stored out of sight and up high after every use, nearly 7 in 10 say they store medicine within a child’s sight?

With everything going on in our daily lives, convenience often trumps caution when it comes to poison safety. But a good place for every parent to start is assessing what products and medications in your home should be stored safely to prevent accidental exposures.

Using this poison safety checklist, go through each room of your home and identify items that are potentially poisonous. Then, be sure to store them up, away and out-of-sight of children.
 

Protect

Every parent has had that “Oh!” moment when their child does something for the first time. We didn’t know they could reach up so high already, or how quickly they could open that child-resistant container we thought was safe and secure.

Here are some steps parents can take to make sure children are safe around potential poisons.

  • Use child-resistant packaging and cabinet latches. But remember, nothing is child-proof.
  • Keep all medicine out of your child’s reach and sight – even medicine you take every day. Instead of keeping medicine on the counter or nightstand, use tools like setting a reminder in your phone or use a medicine schedule to help you remember when to give or take medicine.
  • Store medicines and potentially poisonous household products in their original containers, and lock them up after each use.
  • Poisons can look like food, drink or candy. Teach your child to ask an adult before eating or drinking anything.
  • Are children around? Take your medicines where they can’t watch. Children are naturally curious and may want to investigate what you’re using.
  • Keep child-proofing top of mind. As your child grows, learns new skills and becomes more mobile, you will need to continue assessing how to best keep potentially poisonous substances safe and secure. 

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