PoisonSafety for Preschoolers
Each year over 80,000 children are rushed to the emergency room for accidental poisonings. This extremely high number may come as no surprise to the parent of a toddler or preschooler due to the way that poisonous substances are packaged today and the fact that young children have a tendency to stick anything and everything in their mouths. Out of the 2 million calls the poison safety hotline each year, over half of them involve a child under the age of 5 and 9 out of 10 of those incidents occurred in their home.
Poison Safety History
If you are a Gen Xer, you may remember Mr. Yuk, the “yucky” green faced guy/sticker who appeared on television warning kids to stay away from poisons. Between 1973 and 1980, 50 Million Mr. Yuk stickers were distributed to families. Although Mr. Yuk eventually proved to be ineffective, and some would argue that he may have caused more harm than good, we like to think that creator Dr Richard W. Moriarty was on to something. Creating a character, an image, or something that would relay the message of “danger” to young children is no easy task, especially when you want this character to be widely known and recognizable. But what went wrong with Mr. Yuk? He looks “scary” enough, he became widely known via television and 50 million stickers were distributed and placed on poisonous substances around homes across the US. We believe that the reason that Mr. Yuk proved to the ineffective was the lack of story associated with him. Without a story, Mr. Yuk was just a recognizable face to a young child and what stops a young child from sticking that recognizable face, along with the poisons that he was on, in their mouth? Apparently nothing.
Current Poison Safety
Here are the current tips and trends used to inform parents on how to keep kids safe. Visit www.safekids.org/poisonsafety for more.
- Store all household products and cleaning solutions out of children’s sight and reach. Young kids are often eye-level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
- If possible, avoid storing medication in your purse. Because it is difficult to remember to store your purse out of sight, try to avoid keeping your medication in your purse to begin with. If you are offering your child mints, gum, your phone or a pacifier from your purse, children are more likely to get into them searching for those objects.
- Put the toll-free number Poison Help Number (1-800-222-1222) into your cell phones. You should also post it near your phone or on your refrigerator for the babysitter. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s nice to have just in case.
- Check for lead-based paint. Remove any peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
The Future of Poison Safety
We feel that teaching poison safety aligns with our mission to inspire children to make positive choices and we hope that your child is enrolled in our Fall 2017 unit! Throughout this unit, children will listen to stories about a character named Sikko the Scorpion and learn that he poisons everything that he touches. We are in the process of developing a booklet for all children that outlines this story, can be read by a parent, and also includes parent tips on how to teach this lesson at home. Stay tuned for additional PoisonSafety tips from us throughout the rest of the year!