March 20-26, 2016 is National Poison Prevention Week, and since I’m big on safety, especially the safety of our little ones, I’d like to take this post to talk about some simple things we can do in our homes to keep our families safe. I’m not talking about this to scare anyone. Fear doesn’t solve problems. But education does, and the more we know, the better we can be about keeping our kiddos safe.
Kids get in to everything. You turn your head for a second or dare to take the time for a shower and you come back to find markers decorating the walls, pudding on the couch, and the contents of the dirty clothes hamper strewn up and down the stairs. That stuff is pretty irritating, but not deadly. However, if the kids get under the kitchen sink and start playing in the cleaning products, the situation can go from a minor (okay pudding on the couch is major) irritation to a life and death situation. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has provided the below infographic to help families understand why this is such an important topic.
In our home, we’ve taken a few simple steps to prevent poisonings, and I hope these ideas will help you stay safe in your own homes.
1. We don’t use child locks on cabinets.
A child lock on a cabinet is like waving a big purple sign that says, “There’s fun stuff in here! Come check it out!” I’ve yet to find the child lock that my children can’t defeat. And, ultimately, it’s in their nature to explore. So we stopped fighting the fight. Instead of locking the cabinets, we just make sure everything in the low, child-height cabinets is safe. Which leads me to…
2. We don’t store cleaning products under the sinks.
Growing up, that’s where the cleaning products belonged. Bathroom products went under the bathroom sinks and kitchen and other household cleaners went under the kitchen sink. It makes sense. It’s convenient. But it’s also easy for toddlers to get in to. What kid doesn’t enjoy exploring the inside of cabinets? It’s like they’re wired to do this.
We decided to stop fighting the fight to keep the kids out of there. Instead of storing cleaning and other hazardous products under the sinks at kid level, we store our cleaning supplies up high on the top of closet shelves. I bought a couple of inexpensive cleaning caddies and made cleaning kits (one for upstairs, one for downstairs) with everything I need in them: toilet cleaner, surface cleaner, glass cleaner, etc. When it’s time for me to clean, I pull the kit down and carry it with me wherever I need to go. When I’m finished cleaning, I put the kit back up on the top shelf of the hall closet.
We use the area under the sink to store washcloths, cleaning rags, toilet paper, and other non-harmful things. Refolding the washcloths after a kiddo plays with them is annoying, but it would be a lot worse if they played with cleaning chemicals. And yes, vinegar and lemon oil counts as chemicals.
3. We are aware that just because a product is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.
I use a lot of home-made, natural cleaning products. Or at least I used to before my busy life caught up with me and I had to prioritize what I make and what I buy. Still, it’s important to remember that even the most natural product can be dangerous if a child ingests it. Essential oils? Top shelf. Homemade shower spray? Top shelf. Natural, castile soap? Top shelf.
There are plenty of things in nature that will kill you. Don’t let an “All Natural” label lull you into complacency.
4. We keep medicines up high.
Before kids, we kept medicines in the bottom cabinet of the bathroom. Once the kids were born, I bought a cheap plastic storage bin and put the medicines in the hall closet right next to the cleaning supplies. It’s out of sight, out of mind, and most importantly out of reach. We also talk to the kids each time we give them medicine and remind them that medicine can help you feel better if you take it in the right way at the right time with Mommy and Daddy’s help. But at the wrong time it can make you sick.
5. We involve the kids in cleaning.
There’s this magic age where kids like to help clean! Take advantage of that while you can! Little ones want to help. They want to participate in the household chores. Cleaning is a perfect time to talk to them about poison safety. We talk about how to use the counter spray safely while I spray and the Cricket wipes. We talk about why something that gets rid of dirt can help keep our house healthy, but that it would make our bodies sick if we ate it. For us, including the kids and demystifying those bottles we keep in the top of the closet has helped manage their curiosity in safe ways.
There are lots of other ways to help prevent poisonings around the house. Here’s another infographic from The American Association of Poison Control Centers get you thinking about different poisons in your house and how to keep your families safe:
If you ever find yourself in a situation (and who hasn’t) where your little one has ingested something they shouldn’t, don’t hesitate to call the 800 number. They can take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Poison Control is there for a reason. Here’s that number in case the infographic doesn’t load for you.
Poison Help Line: 1-800-222-1222
Do you have any steps you’ve taken to keep your families safe from accidental poisonings? Please share them so that we can all be a little safer!
Graphics provided by AAPCC in their National Poison Prevention Week media toolkit.