Caregivers' Guide: Poison Prevention & Child Safety

Equipping caregivers and babysitters with information about poison prevention and household products can give everyone greater peace of mind while parents are away. After all, many parents and even professionals can be caught off guard by the creativity of young children to discover household poison dangers.

Helpful Tips for Caregivers and Babysitters

  • Memorize the Poison Control telephone number: 1-800-222-1222. Or consider pre-programming it into your cell phone.
  • Write down instructions from the parents and a phone number where they can be reached in case of emergency.
  • Get important information on the children, like age, weight, allergies or medical conditions, in case of emergency.
  • Make sure safety latches on cabinets and drawers are in working order. Make sure tamper-resistant caps on medicine bottles and household products are on tight. But always remember tamper-resistant and child-proof packaging cannot substitute for careful adult supervision.
  • Never refer to medicine or vitamins as "candy" to make a child want to take it. It may tempt them to take real medicine, which is often colorful and attractive to children.
  • Don’t leave any personal belongings, especially your purse, out where a child could rummage through it and perhaps find medicine, makeup, perfumes or vitamins – all potentially poisonous to a child or pet.
  • If you perform chores while babysitting, NEVER leave a household product out, unsupervised, even for "a minute" while answering a phone or doorbell. It only takes an unsupervised SECOND for a child to eat or drink a poison left out in the open.

Steps to Take if a Child has Been Poisoned

  • Do not panic. Many patients can be successfully treated at home with guidance from a doctor or nurse at the poison control emergency hotline. The number to call is 1-800-222-1222.
  • If the child is unconscious or unresponsive, call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.
  • If the child is conscious, take the poison away from the child or move the child away from the poison.
  • Check the baby’s mouth. Quickly but gently remove any pills with your finger.
  • Tell the parents what happened and what steps you have taken.
  • Help parents make the house safe so the baby doesn’t get poisoned again.

Medicines, household products and fumes can be real dangers to little ones, so it’s important for babysitters and parents alike to be informed on what to look for and how to treat poison consumption.


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