Keeping Kids Healthy
By Sally Robinson and Keith Bly 

It’s important for parents to remember that not all poisons are in the garage or basement. A number of poisons can be found throughout the house.

Small children are both curious and fast; so parents have to exercise special care not to leave dangerous products open or within their reach.

Take a tour of your house or apartment to see if some of these dangerous conditions exist.

In the kitchen, check that all detergents, bleaches, cleaners and especially drain cleaners, as well as soaps and bug killers are not under the sink in an unlocked cupboard, but up high in a cupboard with a childproof lock. Products containing lye are extremely dangerous. Don’t keep these in your home. Keep alcoholic drinks up out of the reach of children.

Buy products with childproof or child-resistant caps. Opening them should require thumb pressure beyond the ability of small children.

In the bathroom, besides checking that soaps are out of reach, keep medicines, cosmetics, colognes, toothpaste and mouthwashes out of reach and preferably locked up.

Don’t leave pills in open bottles or in a dish of the day’s dose of medicine. Make sure all product labels are clear — both on medicines and products that might be found anywhere in the house. In an emergency, you will need to know what product was involved.

To discard old medications follow the following steps:

• Keep in original container;

• Mark out the name on the label;

• Put liquid medications in a bag that can be sealed;

• Then place in a study container such as a box;

• Put a nontoxic product like cayenne pepper over med; and

• Place container in garbage right before pick up.

In the bedroom, remember that perfumes, cosmetics and purses that might contain them could be dangerous to a young child. Don’t keep headache medicines, especially jell caps and other candy look-alike medications, on the night stand.

In the living room, know the names of your plants and whether leafs or blossoms are poisonous.

In the basement and garage, make sure that insect sprays, lighter fluid, paint and turpentine or other thinners, rust removers, gasoline, oil, fertilizers, antifreeze, weed killer, bug or rat killers and all other chemicals are out of reach and locked up.

Homes built or last painted before 1978 might contain lead. Flaking paint on the outside of the house can contaminate the ground. Exposed, lead-based paint on window sills or doors can cause lead poisoning leading to brain damage. If you suspect the presence of lead paint, call your local health department.

If you think that your child has been poisoned, call the Poison Center, 800-222-1222. Do not use syrup of ipecac before calling.

Sally Robinson is a cliical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital, and Keith Bly is an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the UTMB Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.