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Health & Safety

Top 10 Poison Prevention Tips

Follow these guidelines to keep kids safe

It only takes a minute for kids to get into things they shouldn't, and every year, more than 1 million children under the age of 6 come in contact with a poisonous substance. Homes are filled with cleaning supplies, toiletries, and prescription medications that can be toxic to young children, so follow these poison prevention tips to help keep kids safe:

1. Be prepared. The best way to handle a poisoning scare or emergency is to know what to do. The National Poisoning Prevention Council encourages parents to program the Poison Control helpline (1-800-222-1222) into their phones and post it somewhere visible, such as on the refrigerator.

2. Secure medications. In addition to keeping medications out of reach, always store them in their original containers with child safety locks, and be particularly mindful of daily or weekly pill containers without locks that you might keep in your purse. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also reminds parents never to call medication "candy" or make it sound like a treat. Some medications may taste good, but kids need to know the difference.

3. Don't rely on child safety latches. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents not to put their faith in safety latches, which can malfunction. Instead, they encourage parents to store all toxic products up high where children can't see or reach them.

4. Skip the laundry pods. The AAP recommends that parents stick to old-fashioned laundry soap or gels until all children in their home are at least 6 since the packets can be dangerous if ingested or if the detergent gets in their eyes. And laundry soap should be stored up high and out of reach.

5. Never leave poisonous products out-even for a minute. Every parent has been distracted in the middle of cleaning the bathroom or while taking their medication. Instead of leaving the cleaners or medication out while you answer the door or let the dog out, be safe and put them away. If you don't have time to put them away, take your child with you while you step away.

6. Check for lead. If you live in a home that was built before 1978, Safe Kids recommends that you test for lead-based paint. If your home has lead-based paint, your child should be tested for lead exposure and you'll need to hire a professional service to safely remove the lead. Lead removal isn't the time to DIY.

7. Install carbon monoxide alarms. Every level of your home should be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector, especially near sleeping areas. Remember to check them for working batteries at least twice a year.

8. Beware of e-cigarettes refills. Even a small amount of liquid nicotine spilled on the skin or swallowed can be fatal for a child. Safe Kids recommends that parents who use e-cigarettes keep the refills locked up and stored out of reach, and only buy refills with child safety packaging.

9. Keep your keys out of reach. Babies love playing with car keys, and many parents have handed them over in exchange for a minute of peace. But the tiny batteries inside car key fobs (and other small devices like remotes or watches) contain button-cell batteries that are dangerous to children. Store your car keys in a safe place and give your child a plastic set instead.

10. Be mindful of makeup. Makeup may seem harmless, but it can be toxic to kids if it's ingested. Read labels carefully and safely store any makeup with toxic ingredients out of reach of children.

No matter how many precautions you take, accidents happen. If you suspect your child has come in contact with a poison and is alert and breathing, contact 1-800-222-1222. If your child is unresponsive, call 911. Remain calm, and make sure to have the bottle or container ready so you can answer questions about what your child may have ingested.