Store all medicines out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
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By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
Did you know that poisoning is now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, ahead of car accidents and guns? Each year, thousands of people - many under the age of 6 - swallow or come into contact with a poisonous substance.
Parents and caregivers can impact this scary scenario by poison-proofing their homes. This is an ongoing project, of course, but should begin by the time your child is 6-9 months old and is slowly becoming mobile. Begin with easy things:
1. Store all medicines and household products out of reach of children and preferably in a locked cabinet.
2. Store poisons in their original containers so you know what's in each container. This is very important if your child ever gets into poison so you'll know what they ingested; they'll be no guessing if it's in the original container.
3. Use child-resistant packaging, but remember, NOTHING is truly child proof.
4. Take all medications out of purses and diaper bags.
5. Teach your children that medicines are NOT candy. Kids watch adults take medicine, so take your medication out of sight of young children. Lock all medication back up immediately after you've taken it.
6. Make sure to read labels on all medications and products and follow the directions. For young children, most medication is dosed by weight rather than age. Be careful not to overdose over-the-counter products. Use the proper measuring dropper or syringe to dose all medication.
7. Should your child ingest a poison, be sure you have the number to poison control available. The Poison Help hotline is 1-800-222-1222 and is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If in doubt, call the hotline rather than your pediatrician's office, as advisors in the poison center network are the experts. You can discuss their recommendations with your doctor if necessary AFTER you've called the Poison Help hotline.
There's also a great "app" for poison help. There is a one-click connection to the poison help center from the app. The site also has a medication identification tool, first aid information and poison safety tips.
Take some time to look over your home and "re-childproof." Fix those broken cabinet latches, throw out any old or unused medication and post the Poison Help hotline number in a conspicuous place.
Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. "The Kid's Doctor" TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid's Doctor e-book, "Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today's Teen," is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.
This column was printed in the November 16, 2014 - November 29, 2014 edition.