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How do I prevent…?



As any parent will tell you, babies and young children love to explore the world by putting things in their mouth. While most of the time this behaviour is harmless, occasionally they get hold of something dangerous. Just as small objects can cause choking, an alarming number of young children still end up in hospital after swallowing something poisionous.

From medicine to cleaning products – even something as innocuous as shampoo – there are plenty of harmless-looking things around the house that can be dangerous if your child accidentally ingests them. While it is impossible to fully babyproof your home, there are still plenty of steps you can take to keep your little ones safe from poisoning.



While most of us are aware that cleaning items like bleach should always be kept out of the reach of children, there are some items that you might not have thought about, for example, the liquid laundry capsules that you pop in your washing machine.

As ever, supervision is one of the best ways to prevent this kind of accident – something we know isn’t always easy to do. However, the following steps can also help give you peace of mind:

  • Keep all household chemicals – including liquid laundry capsules – out of the sight and reach of children, preferably high up in a locked cupboard
  • Use cupboard latches to keep small children away from potentially dangerous products
  • Always store household cleaning chemicals in their original containers
  • Replace lids and put all products away immediately after use
  • Dispose of unwanted household cleaning products safely.

Remember: If children have accidently ingested medication or household chemicals then medical treatment should be immediately sought.


From a spoonful of cough syrup to a course of antibiotics, medicine is part and parcel of most childhoods. However, because young children like to copy grown-ups (and because medicine often tastes nice!), it’s important to keep all medication well away from little hands.

  • Bedtime can also be medicine time for poorly little ones. Lock it away afterwards so it’s not in reach - even if it does have a child resistant cap
  • Be aware of adult medicine too. Tablets in your handbag can be tempting for an inquisitive toddler.

Remember: Keep all medication out of reach, preferably in a locked cupboard.

While children love playing outside, it’s important to remember that there are a number of poisonous substances that young children can get their hands on:

  • Common garden chemicals, such as slug pellets, solvents, paint or plant food, can all be deadly if swallowed by children. Be sure to put away all chemicals when you’ve finished with them. A locked shed is the safest place
  • Some garden plants, such as bright red yew berries, laburnum pods and foxgloves, are especially attractive to small children. They’re also incredibly toxic, and can even lead to death. Always read the label carefully if you’re buying new plants. If you’re unsure about the existing plants in your garden, visit a flower shop or garden centre for more advice.

There are countless items in our homes and garden that can poison children. Here are some to be especially watchful for:

  • Alcohol: Remember, children love to copy grown-ups, so treat alcohol like any other poisonous chemical – store high up or locked away
  • Raw meat – be careful with anything they might fish out of the bin. Keep bins out of reach
  • Dog or cat poo.
  • Liquids used in electronic cigarettes and vaping products are powerful neurotoxins. Tiny amounts whether ingested or absorbed through the skin can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal. All vaping and e-cigarette products should be stored securely out of children’s reach.
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