>> Apr 20, 2013
A young boy has died after eating an omelette accidentally contaminated with rat poison in India. The 13-year-old boy was home alone and mistakenly added unlabelled rat poison to his food, instead of pepper. The boy was admitted to the hospital on February 21 and later passed away.
The incident has revived calls for parents to be aware of the risks of accidental child poisoning in the home. According to the NSW Poisons Information Centre (http://www.chw.edu.au/poisons/poisoning_prevention.htm) every year thousands of children require medical care for poisoning from chemicals found in the home.
While children under five are most at risk, poisoning can occur at any age without the proper prevention in the home. There are many simple steps parents can take to help avoid poisonings.
Child Proof Your Home
Child proofing your home may seem like an obvious tip but the truth is, young children will explore and often put anything they find in their mouths. Any poison should be stored in a high, lockable cupboard. Childproof handles should be secured to cupboards containing cleaning products, chemicals or any other toxic substances. Always make sure that poison is placed well out of reach of children.
Make Sure Toxic Products Have Labels
All poison should be labelled correctly and stored in their original packaging. This helps to ensure if poisoning does occur medical professionals have the full and correct information on what has been ingested.
Use Eco-Friendly Alternatives
Go non-toxic; there are thousands of eco-friendly, natural and non-toxic products for cleaning and pest control on the market these days. Baking soda, lemon and vinegar can all be used in place of most household cleaners. They are cheaper, greener and safer for your children. For tips on non-toxic alternatives see the Healthy Child Healthy World website (http://healthychild.org/) or the Earth Easy Website (http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm).
Lock Toxic Materials Away
Chemicals are not the only items which need to be locked away. 70% of accidental child poisonings are the result of children swallowing medication. (RaisingChildren Network 2012) http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/preventing_poisoning.html/context/378. Be sure to store medicines in a locked box or medicine cabinet out of children’s reach. Children also like to imitate their parents. Avoid taking medicine in front of your children, or if age appropriate, explain what medicines are and that they can be harmful if not taken correctly.
Educate the Bigger Kids about Poison
As children grow up parents need to educate them about the dangers of poison. Teach older children how to read the warning labels, the appropriate emergency numbers and their address so they are prepared to act in an emergency. List emergency numbers such as ambulance, hospital, poisons information centre and contact people, close to the phone within easy access. In the event of a poisoning, acting quickly is critical. Giving children the information and skills to call in an emergency can save valuable time.
Learn First Aid
Learn first aid. Many people think the appropriate response to a child poisoning is to induce vomiting. According to the Better Health Channel (http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Child_poisoning_in_the_home_symptoms_and_treatment) you should not try to cause vomiting as it can actually cause more harm to the child. If you suspect a poisoning but the child is not showing symptoms call the poison information line. Symptoms of poisoning can vary depending on the amount of the substance swallowed. Some symptoms may include: burns and redness to the mouth, vomiting, fainting, drowsiness, nausea, seizures or stomach pain. If the child is showing poisoning symptoms call an ambulance immediately.