Family Safety Week: Poison In The Home

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Things you use every single day could pose a danger to the little ones in your life.

The National Safety Council says unintentional poisonings from items such as cleaning supplies and medications injure an estimated 40,000 kids every year.  10TV Anchor Kristyn Hartman went with an expert to find the everyday dangers that could be lurking in your home.

Columbus resident Marta Long wasn’t sure what she had under her kitchen sink.  Central Ohio Poison Center Director Henry Spiller was there to show her just what could pose a problem for Marta’s toddler, Lucy.

She’s hitting that age of exploration, when what’s in a cabinet might be within reach.

“When you get down here, this is exactly how tall she is,” said Spiller.  He showed Marta the potential dangers she’d have to move out of Lucy’s way.  He told her kids have bitten into dishwasher packets causing irritation and burns to the back of the throat.  He found salt at Lucy’s level in the pantry.  

“A teaspoon of this would be enough to put her in the emergency room,” he said – to Marta’s surprise.  On a shelf he found eye drops.  He explained the drug that gets the red out can also cause respiratory depression in a small child.  A trip upstairs revealed more danger:  mouthwash and hand sanitizer with alcohol.

“This is 66 percent alcohol so that’s 120 proof,” he said, “It beats vodka and rum.”

Just about all the things Spiller mentioned have caused parents to dial the poison center hotline.  A calendar in the office with numbers as high as 136 showed the calls per day last month.  According to Spiller, about 25 percent of their phone cases end up in the emergency room often because young eyes that can’t read mistake something like torch fuel for apple juice, medicine for candy, or lamp oil for some kind of colored, flavored drink.

“This is one – it’s a hydrocarbon – as little as a teaspoon, if it goes into the lungs, could be fatal,” said Spiller.

Another reminder: Those devices you put on cabinets to secure them are not child proof – just child resistant.  Lucy’s mom says her eyes are open wider now than they ever were.

“In the back of my mind I think chemicals are bad, but I didn’t realize how many and how dangerous they really are,” said Long.

According to the CDC, poisoning deaths in children have doubled since the year 2000.  Blame unintentional prescription drug overdoses in kids ages 15 to 18.  It’s yet another thing parents have to watch.



It’s a number you should always keep handy, just in case your child gets into a substance, a liquid or a medication that could injure or kill.

If you need to call the Central Ohio Poison Center of Nationwide Children’s hospital, that number is 1-800-222-1222.  Their advice: Put the number in your cell phone contacts, or request a free magnet with the phone number for your refrigerator.  Call and they’ll send you one.

Guidelines to follow from the Poison Center if someone has been poisoned:

If the person has collapsed or is having seizures, call 911.

If the person has swallowed the wrong medicine or too much medicine, do not make the person throw up. Call the Central Ohio Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

If the person has inhaled poison, get him or her to fresh air right away and call 1-800-222-1222.

If the person has poison in the eyes, start rinsing the eyes with running water and call the Poison Center.

If the person has poison on the skin, take off any clothing the poison touched, rinse the skin and call the Poison Center.