LHSC’s Injury Prevention team urges vigilance to prevent accidental poisoning

March 15-21 is National Poison Prevention Week

March 20, 2015

Over 500 children under the age of five have presented to Children’s Hospital Emergency Department at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) in the last five years for poisonings. 

“We can prevent poisoning in children by taking a few key simple steps and ensuring that we are vigilant,” says Jane Harrington, injury prevention specialist, LHSC. According to Parachute Canada, medication is the leading cause of poisoning in children. Even small amounts of adult medication can be fatal to a child. “Children can confuse medication for candy, especially if they observe adults consuming pills. If you have medication you are no longer using dispose of it at your local pharmacy.”

Other causes of poisoning are household cleaners and personal care products, such as mouthwash or nail polish. Many children have swallowed poisonous products that were not stored properly or were taken out of their original container.

Harrington recommends ensuring that “household cleaning products are kept out of the reach of children or kept in a secure cupboard.”

Medicines, cleaning products and other poisons need to be locked in a place high up and out of your child's reach.

  • Keep all medication in original child-resistant packaging.
  • Never refer to medicine as candy. Be extra careful with medicines that may taste good to your child, such as chewable vitamins and fruit-flavoured syrups.
  • Always read the label and check the dosage each time you give or take medicine.
  • When visitors come to your home, make sure they keep their purses, bags, etc. out of your child's reach.
  • Keep pesticides in their original containers and store them in a cool dry place out of your child's reach.
  • Store household cleaners, like oven cleaner and bleach; car supplies, such as windshield washer fluid; cosmetics, like nail polish remover; and pesticides, in locked cupboards or drawers
  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluids are very poisonous.

Because laundry detergent packets are small and often brightly coloured, children can mistake them for food or toys. This can lead to a child swallowing the laundry detergent packet, which can cause:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • coughing and choking
  • breathing troubles
  • stomach pain

A laundry detergent packet can also burst in a child's hand with only a small amount of pressure. The packet's membrane can dissolve quickly with moisture. Contact with the contents of a laundry detergent packet can cause:

  • rashes
  • skin irritation
  • eye irritation

You can help prevent a serious injury involving laundry detergent packets by:

  • keeping them locked out of sight and reach of children
  • reading the label and following instructions before use
  • using them with dry hands

Source: The Public Health Agency of Canada

 Child with household prducts, with "no" sign