There’s a certain allure to blue window cleansers and purple dish soap that draws young children to them. Perhaps it’s the tasty illusion of blue raspberry snow cone juice or the exotic scent of pomegranates. That same magnetic pull drew my sister and me into eating a handful of chewable vitamins decades ago.

Medicine cabinets, the space under kitchen sinks and workbenches are chocked full of unusual and fascinating concoctions whose odor, texture and color intrigue children. Even purses can be a danger to little ones. Items such as mascara, lipstick, lip balm, foundation, liners and concealer may include waxes, perfumes, coloring agents and emulsifying agents that are safe for the skin but not so much for tummies.

It’s precocious curiosities like these which prompt parents and caregivers to call a Poison Control Center every 14.9 seconds in the United States.

It’s not just children who are playing with poison. Poisonings in Indiana have increased from 1999-2014 by a whopping 685 percent among adolescents, young adults and adults. It’s not surprising that prescription drug abuse and misuse are the leading cause of the rise. (CDC, 2016)

Rat poison, nail polish remover and weed killer may come to mind as the things to store away from your little ones under lock and key. Dangers are also in:

• Batteries

• Cleaning products

• Vitamins and iron pills

• Alcohol

• Eye Drops

• Nail polish and cosmetics

• Mouthwash

• Houseplants and outdoor plants

• Wild mushrooms

Even something like Vitamin C, which is good for you, becomes toxic for an individual who ingests too much.

Fumes, gases and vapors top the list as the most serious poisonings, followed closely by analgesics (painkillers). Rounding out the most dangerous list are various drugs, including cardiovascular drugs, antidepressants, antihistamines, street drugs, sedatives and anti-psychotic drugs. (National Poison Data System, 2016)

Minimize the threat of an accidental poisoning in your home by – and to pets or wildlife in your backyard:

• Keeping potential poisons in their original containers.

• Storing food and household chemical products in separate areas.

• Never mixing household chemical products together.

• Store items in locked cabinets.

• Use safety latches for under the sink and medicine cabinets.

For those old enough to remember, Ipecac syrup is no longer recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics.

Keep the telephone number of the Poison Control Center posted at your phone – (800) 222-1222. Call immediately if you fear that your child has been exposed or ingested a chemical. Every minute is precious, so don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Texting is now available — text POISON to 797979. Save it in your smartphone.

To better ensure your family’s safety, be sure to get rid of unused and outdated products or pills. Local police have drop-off boxes so you can discard pills safely without contaminating ground water or harming your septic system.

Check out the La Porte County Solid Waste District’s website at www.solidwastedistrict.com/hazardous-waste-collections for the upcoming drop-offs for hazardous waste and sharps (which cannot be disposed of at the police station). It’s friendly, quick, free and most importantly, safe.

Pamela Henderson is the director of development and communications at Dunebrook. To learn more about parenting and support programs at Dunebrook, call (800) 897-0007. Email Pam with parenting questions and comments at pam@dunebrook.org

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