As parents, we are responsible for the safety and welfare of our children. By nature, young children are prone to exploring their world by putting everything in their mouths. Even slightly older children are not always aware of what substances are harmful to them. This should be enough reason for every parent to take steps to assure that their children are not able to access these volatile compounds and cleaners. With a few simple changes, it is possible to create a safe environment for children without the risk of accidental poisoning.
Assess Each Room
There are many more dangers to children other than the obvious kitchen cupboard. It is important to go through every room of the home and seek out potential hazards. These could include items like cosmetics, prescriptions, and potentially dangerous cleaners. Do a complete check and inventory of drawers, closets, and storage spaces. Getting down to the child’s level of sight may help to indicate otherwise unnoticed hazards and toxins. Promptly remove these items to a secure storage area with approved child resistant locks or containers.
There are dangers present that are not readily visible to parents such as lead and carbon monoxide. Never use a gas powered appliance to heat a home. Keep all heating appliances such as furnaces, wood stoves, and fireplaces clean and maintained. Never leave an automobile engine running in a garage or other enclosed space. It is important to learn the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and the appropriate actions to take in case of an accident. It is essential that every home has adequate warning systems and working detectors for this type of poisoning as it is odorless and considered an invisible killer.
Paint and plumbing that were installed before 1978 may contain this dangerous mineral. A home lead inspection will point out the areas that are toxic and need removal. Ingestion of the dust or chips of paint in a room can result in negative effects on a child’s growth, development, and intelligence. Parents can contact a local expert to test the home for lead contamination.
Alcohol and Medicines
Never give medicine an alternative name which may be misleading to children, such as “candy” or “treats.” Keep medicines hidden from children’s view and reach. Clean out the medicine cabinet of expired or unused portions of prescriptions. Dispose by taking them to a qualified medical facility. Never flush prescriptions down the toilet or throw them away in the trash. Keep all medications in their original containers and never in food containers or drink bottles. Keep alcohol and other harmful substances such as tobacco and diet pills well out of the reach and accessibility of children at all times.
House Plant Dangers
It is important to know what types of plants are in the home. Keep all plants well out of the reach of children and store poisonous plants even further away. Consider the possibility of getting rid of these plants to a friend or neighbor without children or pets. Many plants that a child may find in the outdoors may be poisonous also. Early discouragement and constant reminding will help to teach children to never put any plant or berry in their mouth.
Babyproofing and Toy Safety
The safety of a child needs to begin before they are of the age to enact on unsafe situations. Having a home prepared before the child is present will give the parents less to worry about later on. Early discouragement of contact with unwanted materials will also help to teach the child to be safe. As added security, these areas will benefit from child proof locks and latches. Other items such as children’s toys should be considered as well, as they may contain the toxic chemicals and components such as phthalates, lead, mercury, and other. The best practice includes doing your own research in order to find out what kinds of chemicals were used during the manufacturing process of the toy, and subsequently removing the unsafe toy.
Perhaps the best defense against accidental poisoning of a child is the supervision that the child receives. Small children are very fast and even a few moments of distraction can lead to a potentially dangerous or deadly accidental poisoning situation.
Every home is full of potentially dangerous and toxic substances and situations that can harm a child. With some smart and early planning, a home can be transformed from a toxic hazard to a safe and secure home to raise a child. See the world through a child’s view and eliminate any dangers well before an emergency situation presents itself. Preventative childproofing and constant supervision will allow a child to have the carefree, fun, learning and growing experience within their home that every child deserves.