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December 16, 2013

Parents must be cautious of poison during holiday season

NORMAN — The holidays are full of awe and wonder, vibrant colors, fun shapes and smells. So it’s important that parents and loved ones take extra caution and keep potentially poisonous products out of the hands of children during this super sensory time of year.

Nearly half of the 48,000 calls made to Oklahoma Poison Control Center each year are about children younger than 5, said center education coordinator Whitney Kemp. Often, kids ingest potentially harmful things because they look like something they’ve eaten before, they’re colorful, they smell good or simply because kids are tactile learners and love to put things in their mouths.  

“Kids mistake medications for candy, or they get into things that have been left out,” Kemp said.

Medications are a leading cause of child poisoning. More than 67,000 children visit emergency rooms each year for medicine poisoning. Almost all of these visits are because the child got into medicines while their parent or caregiver wasn’t looking, according to the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide.

“Visitors might leave medications out or in a suitcase, overnight bag or purse,” Kemp said. “Kids like to get into these things. So give visitors a safe place to put their medications so they’re not accessible, some place up and away, out of sight and out of mind.”

Also during the holidays, remind friends and family to keep potentially dangerous household products away from curious kids. Many things in the home that can be poisonous look like other harmless items kids see all of the time.

For example, the pine-scented cleaner in the kitchen cupboard looks a lot like apple juice. The window cleaner, mouthwash or dishwasher rinse agent are all the same color as blue sports drinks. Ibuprofen, iron supplements, aspirin and some coated medications look like candy.

Kemp said it’s important to keep these look-alikes away from children all the time, but during the holidays when others are in the home, often things are left out or not stored properly.

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