Remove Household Poisons

Home safety requires knowing how to keep harmful materials away from children.

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Cosmetics, old medications, cleaners, oils and solvents and car-maintenance materials can kill a child. The irony is that most of what would become a poison is something we don't even want, but we save because we can't throw it away.

Years ago I heard about a child who had two years of reconstructive surgeries because she drank a liquid drain opener. What would it mean to have a child nearly die because she drank a poorly stored portion of drain opener for the once-every-five-years clogged drain?

It just wasn't worth it. I began to dispose of every single household poison I owned. Today I still pitch unused portions. My few potential poisons, such as furniture polish and motor oil, fit into a shoebox.

Overboard! But is it? It takes only one glug to wipe out a child's health or life.

Would you actually put old medications in your body or a child's?

And cosmetics? My youngest has moved home with a truckload of cosmetics. You could start a shop. She asked me where I store mine. I showed her the tube of mascara she gave me two years ago shoved into the drawer next to the toothbrushes.

The big question stood like a giant between us: Can one of the grandkids safely go into her rooms and come out alive? Probably not. "Get a latch."

"Poisonings are the second-leading cause of home-injury-related death in America, and children under the age of 6 suffer the highest rate of poison exposures," said Home Safety Council president Meri-K Appy.

Every family should keep the national Poison Control Center hot-line number next to every phone: 800-222-1222.

Make this your plan:

  • Make sure all dangerous products (household cleaners, medicines, antifreeze, pesticides, etc.) have child-resistant closures, are locked up and are stored in high places.
  • Keep original labels on product containers. Labels often give first-aid information.
  • Homes with young children should have child locks installed on cabinets.
  • Make sure all medicines and prescriptions are current. Lock medicines and medical supplies, including personal syringes, in a cabinet and secure the key.
  • Do not store medicines inside purses, nightstand drawers or other locations easily accessed by children.

Judy Lyden operates a preschool in Evansville, Ind.

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