As parents, we all try to create a safe environment for our children, dutifully removing dangerous objects and storing poisonous household items out of reach.

However, you may be surprised that some poisonous materials could be hiding in plain sight around the home.

“Items that seem harmless, like mouthwash or even grandma’s purse, can pose a serious threat to children, especially curious ones,” says Mridula Naik, BSN, RN, CNML, Clinical Nurse Manager at Pediatric Emergency Services and Pediatric In-Patient at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “For your child’s safety, read all labels and lock poisonous items away. A high shelf isn’t always enough to deter kids.”

That’s good advice, considering approximately 800,000 kids are sent to the emergency room each year because of accidental poisoning, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Even more surprising: Roughly 100,000 of those children ingested a grandparent’s medication.

Fortunately, there are many simple steps parents can take to help keep their children safe.

Naik’s top tips include:

  • Install child safety locks on every cabinet that stores poisonous items.
  • Never transfer poisonous or dangerous materials to other containers. Original containers clearly identify contents, and they include important ingredient and safety information.
  • Keep an eye out for every day items that can be dangerous for children. That includes things like laundry pods, dish detergent and even toothpaste.
  • Make sure visitors keep purses or bags with medicines out of reach of children.
  • Have the number to Poison Control handy – stored as a contact on your phone and written in a place anyone can access, like on a refrigerator or cabinet. That number is 800-222-1222.

If you are ever concerned, or even just unsure, about something your child ingested, call Poison Control. They can help you identify any possible side effects or issues. If your child stops breathing, is unresponsive or you think he or she needs immediate medical attention, call 911.

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