Surprising Poisons You Keep in Your Home

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Any of these products, combined with a rag and a few deep breaths from a good pair of lungs, have the potential to be deadly. 
Even a single session of abuse can disrupt heart rhythms and cause death from cardiac arrest or lower oxygen levels enough to cause suffocation, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matthew K. Hacker)

By Jacqueline L. Scheier, D.O.

When you’re a parent, you do everything in your power to protect your children and keep them healthy. You also work hard to keep your home safe and clean. However, there are some common products you may keep in your home that can pose a hazard to your child without realizing it.

Cleaning and Laundry Products

Most household cleaners pose a risk to your children, but bleach, rust removers, toilet bowel cleaners, drain openers, and oven cleaners are the most dangerous. They can cause chemical burns that are nearly as bad as burns caused by fire. They can be fatal if a child ingests them.

While most laundry detergents can cause mild to severe irritation and rash to children, laundry detergent pods seem to pose a greater risk – Consumer Reports found that children tend to get much sicker when they’re exposed to the pods than traditional laundry detergent. Most cases involving detergent pods involve children biting or poking through the thin, dissolvable packet membranes and the concentrated detergent squirts into their eyes or down their throat.

Children exposed to the concentrated detergent pods may experience vomiting and coughing or, more seriously, breathing problems, seizures and coma.

Because of this serious risk these products pose to children, they should be kept locked in a cabinet or on a high shelf far away from your child’s reach. You should also keep them in their original packaging or containers since they typically have childproof lids.

Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Products like hair dye, topical acne treatments, and nail polish remover can cause serious harm to kids if they swallow them. Acne medications, diaper rash creams, calamine and camphor-based ointments and lotions are all poisonous if ingested.

Additionally, artificial nail glue remover and nail primer have caused cyanide poisoning when swallowed by children. Some nail primers have caused burns to the skin and mouths of children who tried to drink them.

Eliminate the risk of children getting their hands on these products by keeping them along with your other toiletries, in drawers or cabinets with childproof locks or on shelves they can’t reach.

Alcohol

You already know to keep your liquor and alcoholic beverages locked away and out of reach of children. But alcohol can likely be found in your home outside of your liquor cabinet. Mouthwash, facial cleansers and hand sanitizers all contain alcohol, some containing just as much as an alcoholic beverage.

If children consume alcohol, it can lead to alcohol poisoning, potentially resulting in seizures, a coma or even death.

Other household items you should make sure are locked away and out of reach include:

  • Pain medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Antibiotics
  • Dietary supplements
  • Pesticides
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Furniture polish
  • Gasoline, kerosene, and lamp oil
  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
  • Paint thinner

If your child gets exposed to any of these items or something else you think is questionable, you should call Poison Control immediately at 800-222-1222. Don’t try to make them vomit – it could cause them to aspirate anything they swallowed, potentially causing even more problems.

About the Author

Jacqueline L. Scheier, D.O.

Specializing in family medicine, Dr. Scheier strives to work with patients in obtaining their short-term and long-term health goals. She works to gain their trust through open and honest conversation in assisting them to achieve these goals.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Scheier, please call 484-446-3660.

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