Strategies to keep kids & pets away from poisons

Accidental poisoning occurs primarily in pets and children under age five. They're all curious and unaware of danger, and often use their sense of taste to investigate. Here are some tips to prevent such a tragedy.

Strategies to keep kids & pets away from poisons

Keep out of reach of children

  • Purchase known poisons only in containers with child-resistant lids. Keep them in locked cabinets, out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Assume that ordinary products used in household cleaning, as well as cosmetics and beauty products, are toxic. Handle them with care, and store them well out of reach.
  • Never leave medicines or vitamins on a bedside table, kitchen table or in a purse.
  • Don't take medicines while small children are watching, because they may try to imitate your action later.
  • Treat tobacco and alcohol as dangerous. Don't leave them where young children can find them.
  • Ask any overnight guests to store their medications in a safe, locked place, such as a chest in your guest bedroom.
  • Get rid of any poisonous plants, including oleander, caladium, dieffenbachia, elephant ears, monstera, philodendron and English ivy.
  • Keep all non-poisonous plants out of reach of all small children. They may contain irritants.
  • Invest in child-safety mechanisms and lock the basement and garage doors to keep them off-limits to young children.
  • To be doubly safe, lock up all toxic chemicals, including antifreeze, garden chemicals and pesticides.

Protect pets from themselves

Like small children, animals frequently taste what they find. Use the above recommendations to safeguard your pets in your household too. Also be aware of the following additional poisoning hazards:

  • Always leave an untreated area in your lawn and confine your dog to that spot until the treatment dissolves, usually after a watering or rainfall.
  • If you must use pesticides, make a controlled application where your pet won't be able to reach, spraying deep into crevices and along joints under cabinets.
  • Avoid poisons in boxes, which pets may try to chew.
  • Read caution labels before you buy, and store them out of your pet's reach. Look for pyrethrins, pyrethrum and carbamates, which are relatively safe. Don't use highly toxic metaldehydes, sometimes sold as slug bait.
  • Cats and dogs actually enjoy the taste of car antifreeze, but it's often fatal. Store antifreeze in sturdy, closed containers. Wipe up and hose any spills immediately.
  • Chemicals to remove snow and ice from driveways and walkways often end up on your pet's paws. Read the labels and purchase products that are safe for animals.

Signs of trouble

If your child or pet is vomiting, having trouble breathing, shivering, convulsing or bleeding for no apparent reason, they may have been poisoned. Get emergency help right away: medical professionals for your child or a vet for your pet.

Insist that every mature member of the family follow these practices, and teach youngsters from an early age to take seriously the dangers of accidental poisoning.

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