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What's poisonous? How about mouthwash and toothpaste?


Seemingly harmless items can injure children

August 4, 1997
Web posted at: 8:17 p.m. EDT (0017 GMT)

From Correspondent Al Hinman

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Accidents involving biking, swimming, skateboarding, baseball and a host of other activities are standard fare in the summer when children are most active.

But keeping them home isn't necessarily any safer than letting them go outside.

The bathroom -- or any room, for that matter -- can be just as hazardous, and maybe more so, because household poisons are mundane, commonplace and easily overlooked.

vxtreme Al Hinman reports

Poison control expert Jim Morelli says most parents know they need to keep the kids out of the medicine cabinet, but they may not know how many seemingly harmless products are risky for children.

Mouthwash, for example, contains enough alcohol to make a child so sick he'd rather have garlic-breath on prom night than gargle. Rubbing alcohol is even worse, and smells it.

"It not only causes drunkenness, but it also can upset the stomach very, very badly," Morelli said. "It can also cause bleeding inside the throat, so you want to be real careful to keep this out of the reach of children."

Keep poison control number handy


Ingesting too much toothpaste, especially toothpaste with fluoride, can cause stomach and heart problems. Morelli advises supervising young children while they brush.

But not everything in the bathroom is dangerous. Among the bathroom items that are not poisonous -- at least in small quantities -- are soap, stick deodorant, hydrogen peroxide, shaving cream and shampoo.

If your child swallows something he or she shouldn't have, try first to find out what it was, and how much. Then call a poison control center -- it's a good idea to have the number handy.

Morelli says do not try to make your child vomit before calling poison control.

He explains: "If you swallow something like oven cleaner that causes a burn, if it comes back up it will cause a second burn, so you're better off leaving it in the stomach."

But if vomiting is the solution, experts say the only safe way is with ipecac syrup. Never stick fingers down a child's throat.

The best advice of all, experts say, is to make sure you never have a poison emergency. And you can do that by making every room in the house child-proof.


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