Curious hands and quick feet can be a dangerous combination in a house full of so many interesting sights and smells.
Children, especially those under age 5, are constantly examining the world around them, usually by touching or tasting everything they encounter.
Poisonings are a common medical emergency among young children and adolescents, accounting for a significant number of emergency room visits.
According to the Poison Prevention Week Council, more than 90 percent of poisonings occur in the home. Nearly 85 percent of these poisonings are accidental, typically involving children less than 5 years old.
"Exploring their environment is a natural and healthy activity for young children and shouldn't be discouraged by parents," said Michael Holder, Jr., M.D., a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Akron Children's Hospital. "But one of the keys to effective poison prevention is making a child's surroundings as safe as possible."
Parents, grandparents and other caregivers are encouraged to take a closer look at their homes through the eyes, noses and mouths of their children.
"Get down on your knees if you have to," Holder said. "See what your children see and smell what they smell. This includes obvious items, like candy-shaped pills and pleasant smelling liquids. However, other objects near floorboards or under tables, or that rusty, broken door hingethings that normally don't catch your eye may be of great interest to your kids."
Parents should also take inventory of hazardous substances around the house while they're doing their spring-cleaning. Take leftover paint and other hazardous chemicals to a proper disposal facility and keep the rest safely out of reach. Ask for child-safety caps for any new medicines obtained at the pharmacy and properly discard any expired or unused medicine.
Parents also should put the poison control number (800) 222-1222 on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone.