Children are adventurous, curious and are busy exploring their world, anything they find they tend to put in their mouths, this can be a problem when the item is poisonous. Children under five years of age are at the greatest risk of poisoning, they are developing skills that make them more mobile which means that potentially poisonous products can be easily reached.
Every year hundreds of children need medical care for poisoning from products that are commonly found around the home. Over half of poisoning presentations to Princess Margaret Hospital are from pharmaceuticals. The most common product involved in poisoning cases is paracetamol, a common painkiller found in most households.
Paracetamol tends to be easily accessible for children, as it is something we take to make ourselves feel better it isn’t seen as the same poison risk as products like bleach or cleaning products. Paracetamol can often be found in hand bags, nappy change bags or left on benches or bedside tables.
It is important to be aware of the risks that pharmaceuticals can pose to children and ensure they are secured away like other poisonous products. Some tips to prevent poisonings from pharmaceuticals include:
- Supervise young children
- Store medicines separately from chemicals and cleaners and ensure both are locked away and in their original containers.
- Use child resistant locks on cupboards or cabinets that store medicines and poisons. These are available for purchase at many hardware stores or from Kidsafe WA.
- Return all poisons to their safe storage area immediately after you purchase or use them.
- Never refer to medicines or vitamins as “lollies”.
- Use products that are in child resistant containers and make sure that lids are on properly after use. Remember child resistant does not mean child proof – many two year olds can still open them.
- Always read the label before giving medicines.
- Keep your guest’s handbag out of reach of your children.
If a poisoning is suspected call the poisons information line as soon as possible on 13 11 26, they are available 24/7 and can help with adult child and pet poisonings.