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How can I make sure that my home is poison proofed?

Every year globally, more than a million children under six years old are the victims of accidental poisoning. That’s because very young children tend to put things in their mouths, and they aren’t aware of the dangers. Substances like household chemicals and even medications can be fatal, so, as a parent, it’s important that you poison proof your home.

It’s not always easy to spot toxic substances either. Things like cosmetics and beauty products, prescription medication, over the counter pain killers, cough medicine and vitamin tablets, plants, pesticides, paint and household chemicals including bleach and oven cleaner, among others, have all been the cause of accidental poisoning in children.

The best idea is to go through your home room by room, and check every non food item you find. If you’re unsure whether a product is toxic, assume it is and put it out of reach.

Lock up anything that you know or suspect may be poisonous, including medicines and cleaning products, and throw away any expired medicines that you find. Don’t assume that because the label says something is child proof, it is, and never decant toxic substances into other containers. They can be mistaken for juice or other innocuous substances, and that can be dangerous to your child. Keep your groceries away from your children, and don’t tell your child that medicine is ‘sweets’ just to get them to take it.

Lastly, opt for natural cleaning products wherever possible. Vinegar and baking soda can all be used to clean your home, and is not toxic to your children.

Accidents with poison can happen within seconds, so never leave your child unattended, even for a minute with potentially harmful chemicals, and always keep the local emergency centre or hospital number for your area on hand. If your child has swallowed something, try to identify what it is, and seek immediate medical care.  If you need to bring your child to hospital, bring the container that you think he or she ate or drank from with you so that the doctors can identify the substance.

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