More than 1 million U.S. children under age 6 are accidentally poisoned each year by consuming household cleaners, personal care products and medications. Most poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home.
It happened to Lindsey Riley’s 2-year-old son, Grayson. While Lindsey was washing dishes, Grayson opened the dishwasher.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him dip his fingers, and then I heard, ‘Yuck.’ I realized he must have eaten something,” Lindsey says. “I looked down in the dispenser and saw quite a bit of Cascade that had not dissolved in the wash cycle. So, at that point, I panicked.”
Lindsey didn’t have the number for Poison Control, so she called Eugene Pediatrics to get the number.
“Immediately, I was rinsing his mouth with water. Poison Control told me that he may throw up, which is very normal, so I should just watch him throughout the day,” Lindsey says.
Dr. Pilar Bradshaw says, statistically speaking, kitchens and bathrooms are the most dangerous rooms in the home. And it can be tricky to keep an eye on kids 100 percent of the time, even for the most vigilant parents.
“Other causes of poisonings that I see fairly often is from medications that get left, for example, in Grandma’s purse,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “She puts it down on the floor because she’s visiting, and due to her arthritis, she has the cap loose, so she can get into it. That means every kid who ruffles through her purse looking for candy can potentially eat her entire bottle of blood pressure medication.”
Safety tips for parents:
- Keep medicine up high and aware from curious fingers
- Do not take medicine in front of small children, they may try to imitate you
- Never refer to medicine as candy
- Don’t keep medicine in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom
- Use safety latches on all cabinets where dangerous products are stored
- Take time to view your home from your child’s perspective
“I advise parents to get down on your tummy and crawl through your home,” Dr. Bradshaw says. “You will be shocked at what you see that you didn’t know was at your child’s level.”
Dr. Bradshaw also advises using safety gates when baby-proofing your home. Gates help to cordon off areas you don’t want your child to access. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers additional information on childproofing your home here.
Grayson is doing just fine after the family’s recent scare. His mom now keeps a closer eye on the dishwasher, and she’s posted the number for Poison Control on the refrigerator: 800-222-1222.