Quick, what’s the #1 cause of injury-related death in the US?

You might be surprised to learn that the answer is poisoning. The third week in March is designated as National Poison Prevention Week, and has been, ever since President John F. Kennedy proclaimed it so in 1962. Nine out of 10 poisonings happen at home, which is why it’s super important to child-proof your house, make sure anything that could be poisonous or hazardous (including things like vitamins and makeup) is put safely away and out of reach, and have emergency numbers ready (the Poison Help Number is 1-800-222-1222).

Here are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of accidental poisoning in your home:

  • Install safety locks on all cabinets within reach that contain cleaning supplies, art supplies, pesticides, bug sprays, detergents, makeup, personal care products, mouthwash, vitamins or medications, and so forth. Another option would be to store any of these items out of reach.
  • If you use any medications, make sure the child-safety cap is secured tightly after every use; this way, if they do get ahold of it, the child won’t be able to open it.
  • Plants can be poisonous; put these out of reach of children.
  • Invest in a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Remove any chipping paint on surfaces where your child might lick or chew. If you have paint that contains lead, remove it. Go through your children’s toys and make sure any painted toys aren’t chipping, and that they are lead-free.
  • Make sure no one leaves small items around that can be swallowed, like coins or button batteries; old-fashioned thermometers are also dangerous, if they break open. Put any bags or purses that contain anything that could be poisonous on tables or chairs, out of reach, not on the floor.
  • Topical gels like anti-itch creams or even teething gels can be dangerous when ingested. After use, put these out of reach of children.
  • Avoid putting rodent poison on the floor.

Know the signs of possible poisoning and act quickly – call the local poison control center (800-222-1222) or 911. Some signs or symptoms include: drowsiness, vomiting, excessive drooling, confusion, lethargy, or a sudden change in behavior.

For more information, check out these resources:

Kids Health: Poisoning

American Association of Poison Control Centers

Environmental Health Watch: Childhood Lead Poisoning Resources