Childproof latches on kitchen and medicine cabinets help eliminate many poisoning dangers, but keeping a direct eye on your child is the only way to be really safe. "A curious toddler can get into a stray purse or a bathroom and end up ingesting prescription or over-the-counter drugs," says Brooks Metts, director of the Palmetto Poison Center at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
Iron supplements, such as those found in prenatal vitamins, are the largest single cause of pediatric poisoning deaths for children under 6 in the United States. "They look like candy. Some taste sweet, and a handful will cause severe intestinal bleeding, which can kill a small child within hours," warns Metts.
A growing source of poisonings are the medication patches used to reduce nicotine cravings or control heart conditions and high blood pressure. "A toddler can get hold of a discarded medication patch left in a bathroom trash can and then suck on it," says Metts.
If your child does ingest a dangerous substance, bring its container or packaging to the phone and immediately call your local poison-control center. Don't give anything by mouth or induce vomiting without checking with poison control first. You may be asked to list the ingredients and will be advised what first-aid steps to take. If you're told to get to a hospital, bring along the container of what your child may have ingested to help the doctors.