How to protect your child from dangerous household products

Michael Finney Image
Friday, August 10, 2018
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Recent data shows that out of two million poison control calls made, nearly half concerned kids ages six and under.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The amount of young children getting into potentially harmful things around the house is staggering. Recent data shows that out of two million poison control calls made, nearly half concerned kids ages 6 and under.

In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney tells you which household products are the most risky and what you can do to prevent your child from accidentally consuming a dangerous substance.

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It's every parent's worst nightmare: finding that your child has accidentally ingested a potentially dangerous household product. For Smily Tapia, it was a battery that caused a terrible scare with her young daughter. "She opened the toy and put the battery in her mouth. I thought, like, she's going to die," she said.

According to the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide, more than 2,800 kids per year in the United States are treated in emergency rooms after swallowing nickel-sized batteries.

Consumer Reports suggests that toys and other household electronics have battery compartments secured with a screwdriver or a similar method.

"Button-cell batteries are small flat batteries that look like coins. It becomes a choking hazard, and asphyxiation may occur," said Don Huber, Consumer Reports Product Safety Expert. And there are more dangers in your house you might not think about.

Cosmetics and personal care products were the most common exposures reported to poison control centers for children under 6 years of age. "Many of them contain ethanol, which is the same type of alcohol you find in alcoholic beverages. Just a small amount can cause a young child of say 25 pounds or less to become extremely intoxicated," said Huber.

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Also dangerous? Cleaning products. When it comes to these items, you can do more than just store them out of the reach of children. "Keep personal care products and cleaners and other things in the package in which they were bought because typically they have a child-resistant closure on them," Huber added.

As for those colorful laundry detergent pods that can look like candy? Consumer Reports recommends not even having them in the house if you have young kids.

After Smily Tapia's scare, she now has specific strategies to keep her house safe. "I believe that you should keep everything in a safe place even though you think it's nothing, because you never know," she said.

Remember that even if you put some of these products in a higher place in the house, a curious child may try to use a chair to reach them. If you suspect that your child ingested some kind of toxic product, contact national Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222, available 24 hours a day. And call 911 if you see that your child faints, doesn't wake up or is bleeding.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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