Children are curious – prevent accidental poisonings

In the blink of an eye a family gathering can go from joyous to tragic, make sure medicines and cleaning supplies are secured.

The American Cleaning Institute wants you to be the KEY in preventing accidental child poisoning.
The American Cleaning Institute wants you to be the KEY in preventing accidental child poisoning.

Over the river and through the woods we go to visit friends and family! It is that time of the year when we are coming and going; it is a joyous time in most cases. Holiday cheer can quickly dim if a child at your gathering gets into unsecured medicines or cleaning supplies and requires a trip to the emergency room. Be aware of where folks are stashing their purses and suitcases if they are visiting. If you haven’t had young children in your home lately, look around – where are you keeping cleaning supplies? Every 10 minutes a child younger than 6-years-old is taken to the emergency room to be treated for a poisoning. Tragically, about 40 children younger than age 5, die from accidental poisonings each year.

Many of our prescriptions and over-the-counter (commonly referred to as OTC) medicines look and taste like candy. Think about some cold medicines compared to cinnamon Red Hots, acid-relief compared to disc-like candies, toothpaste compared to muscle relief ointment – just to name a few. Family and friends may bring medicines into our homes when visiting and not have them in their original containers. These containers may not be child resistant. It is important to make sure packages, travel bags and other vessels are stored out of sight and reach of curious children.

Another hazard is cleaning supplies. If you don’t have children visiting often, take some time before company arrives and explore your home, “thinking like a toddler.” Look in cupboards, drawers and closets for items they may find appealing and move them to a more secure, perhaps locked, area.

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) surveyed 1,000 parents and caregivers with young children, ranging from newborn through age 4. They found that approximately 70 percent of respondents store household cleaners, such as dishwashing detergent, glass and toilet cleaners safely and securely, while only 34 percent reported properly storing liquid cleaning packets in a cabinet or a cabinet with a lock. Moreover, one out of six people surveyed admitted to taking no safety precautions at all in regards to liquid cleaning packet storage.

If parents of young children aren’t always taking precautions with these liquid packets, those of us without children most certainly aren’t. Children find these packets colorful and fun to hold. It is very important to remember they are a highly concentrated cleaning product and should not be handled by little hands. Don’t encourage little ones to help by having them throw them in the washer or dishwasher; keep them out of the child’s sight and reach. The packets quickly dissolve upon contact with water, wet hands or saliva so it is important to keep them dry.

Michigan State University Extension suggests that families work together to keep an eye on little ones. It has to be a group effort; it only takes one quick instant for them to get into something they shouldn’t. The ACI would like you to “Be the Key to a safe laundry room and routine” by taking their pledge:

  • Keep single load liquid packets out of the reach of children.
  • Educate your family and friends about the safe use and storage of these new products.
  • You serve a key role in laundry safety.

Working together and devising a plan to keep your gathering place child safe will allow everyone to enjoy their time together.

Photo source: American Cleaning Institute

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