Injury and poisonings are the leading cause of death and a major cause of disability among all Australian children.
For every child that dies from injury, many more are admitted to hospital for treatment, and others are treated in the emergency departments
Each year in Australia, nearly 4000 children are hospitalised because of poisoning.
It is very sobering to discover that poisoning is the second most common cause of children being admitted to hospital and there are more than a quarter of a million (!) calls annually to the Poisons Information Centre.
There has been a great deal of information published on the prevention of accidents in and around the home, work and school environment. In our most paranoid mumma moments I suspect we have read most of it 😉
In a spirit of sharing so that you don’t have to spend the hours we did, we have highlighted below some of the most helpful tips that we have found:
Home safety tips
Accidents with poison often coincide with changes in a child’s development – when children display new curiosity, learn how to climb to a higher shelf, or how to open a new type of container.
Toddlers are most at risk. They are curious and restless and too young to be cautious about chewing potting mix, eating pills or swallowing liquids that are left around the house.
It can happen very quickly and soon you find that your baby has begun to move, crawl and climb. Before this development stage you need to ensure that dangerous household items are out of reach:
- Keep all medicines, house cleaners and chemicals in child-proof containers or locked cupboards that children cannot open.
- Purchase child-resistant lids and ensure that medicines and chemicals are stored up high so that children can’t climb to them.
- Avoid storing detergents, paint thinners and other hazardous liquids in empty soft drink or juice bottles so that children don’t think they’ve found something nice to drink.
- Be extra vigilant when you move house, go on holiday, go visiting, or have visitors over.
- If your child needs to take medicine, read the instructions and measure it carefully. Always supervise your children while they’re taking medicine.
- If you are in any way unsure about how much medicine to give or for how long, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
- Make sure that handbags are out of children’s reach, as these may contain medicines and other toxic items. This is especially true when friends and relatives are visiting, as they are unlikley to be maintaining the same level of vigilance that you are.
Follow any guidelines and advice that are offered from your support network. Lock your cupboards, take expired medication back to the pharmacy and think about poison and injury prevention.
- Store chemicals and poisons correctly
- Dispose of old chemicals and medicine properly
- Never call medication ‘lollies’
- Use child resistant caps
- Always read the label
- Check your garden plants
- Lock up everything you know to be toxic
The main poisoning offenders
- Pharmacutical products
- Household products
- Cosmetics and personal hygiene
How can poisoning occur?
- Putting your medicine on a table and forgetting to put it away
- Using rat baits in the vicinity of the house
- Putting your shopping on the floor prior to packing it away (we’ve all done this!)
- Having your child’s vaporizer running without supervision
- Leaving your medication in your handbag.
The home is the most common place for accidents to happen.
Nearly two thirds (140,000 calls) of all the phone calls that are received each year by the Poisons Information Centre relate to situations where children have swallowed something harmful at home.
Sobering Fact: Nearly 85% of all calls are related to kids under five years old.
Your house and garden are full of things you would never eat but which children find irresistible: kitty litter, potting mix, medicines, cosmetics, cleaning liquids, etc
Babies and toddlers are orally fixated and will tend to put everything in their mouths!
Not all poisons are labelled as well as you’d think. Everyday items like cleaners, detergents, chemicals, plants, and paints can poison your baby or child.
Follow the correct guidelines and safety procedures and keep everybody safe and smiling!
For immediate and correct first-aid advice call the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126
(24 hours, Australia-wide).
For other baby safety tips, please read our guide to safer sleeping.