Keep all potentially harmful substances out of reach of small children and ideally in a locked cupboard. This includes laundry detergent capsules, dishwasher tablets, medicines, alcohol, cosmetics, DIY, cleaning and gardening products.
Although they can be helpful, don’t rely on child proof caps and bitter tasting (Bitrex) to keep your child safe.
Ensure grandparents and visitors are careful about leaving potentially hazardous substances within reach, particularly medication.
Never decant medication or other products into different containers, always use original containers, clearly labelled, with childproof lids if possible.
Keep batteries out of reach of small children and ensure batteries in toys, gadgets and birthday cards are firmly secured.
Fit carbon monoxide alarms and have appliances and alarms regularly checked.
Be aware of harmful plants – many decorative plants are toxic. Plants can be checked through the Royal Horticultural Society or by asking your local florist or horticultural nursery.
What to Do if a Child is Poisoned Poisons can cause seizures, blurred vision, a major allergic reaction or be fatal. If you suspect a child has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance, be cautious and get the child seen by a medical professional as soon as possible. The key to poisoning is really prevention.
If you suspect a child has swallowed or taken a harmful substance, calmly establish how much has gone and if any has been swallowed.
If the child is perfectly well, call the Antigifcentrum on 070 245 245 (they have access to a poisons database and can give clear and helpful advice) or call 112 if you are seriously worried and give as much information as you can.
If a berry has been eaten, photograph and take a leaf from the plant to help it to be identified. Don’t let your child run around as it will increase their metabolism and could speed up any reaction. If the poison was a tablet or substance contained in packaging, keep as much evidence as possible of what was taken and take the packaging with you to hospital.
If the child shows any change in behaviour, starts to vomit or becomes drowsy, call an ambulance and explain clearly what has happened. Do not take them to hospital in a car unless advised to do so by the emergency services, in case they deteriorate on the way to hospital.
Corrosive Substances Cleaning products and dishwasher tablets contain strong alkalis and burn if swallowed. If you suspect a child has eaten a dishwasher tablet or drunk cleaning product, stay as calm as possible and establish what has happened. Read the advice on the packaging. Wipe away any obvious residue from around the child’s mouth and get them to rinse their mouth with milk or water. If they have swallowed the substance, give them small sips of milk or water. Phone for an ambulance and give them as much information as you can.
Do not make the child sick as the substance will have burnt them as they swallowed it and vomiting will burn them again. If they begin to lose consciousness and you need to give CPR, protect yourself from the corrosive substance using a face shield. If a child has eaten a button battery, they will need to be taken to A&E for an X-ray. A battery will burn through the intestinal wall and you may not be aware there is a problem until the child becomes visibly unwell.
Adapted from: First Aid for Life Website at: https://firstaidforlife.org.uk/first-aid/ 09/03/2019
Life First provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. Life First is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.