Exposure to poisons in many everyday household products, including cleaners, detergents, laundry pods, and haircare products, can cause severe injury and death. Yet far too many of us give little thought to the risks such products pose to our kids.
Unfortunately, more than 44% of the poisonings reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers involve children under the age of 6. That amounts to 3.7 poisoning exposures per 1,000 kids!
Because young children rarely understand the dangers associated with many of the products found in their home, it’s vital to keep any potentially toxic items far from their reach. But sometimes, child poisonings are caused by defective products, unsafe packaging, or other factors outside a parent’s control.
The child injury firm’s highly trained and experienced child poisoning lawyers and attorneys are committed to obtaining fair compensation for victims and their families. To learn more, please contact our office today at 1-877-875-2927.
Common Causes of Child Poisonings
The vast majority of child poisonings are unintentional and occur in the home. Because most kids are naturally curious, they’re more likely to taste, smell, or touch any toxic substance they’re able to access. Since their bodies are smaller and less developed than those of adults, young children are also especially susceptible to the effects of any poisonous product they swallow, inhale, or absorb through the skin.
- Medications: Prescription and over-the-counter medications account for roughly half of all child poisonings reported every year in the United States. While little ones are often harmed by drugs they find in the home, other child poisonings occur because a parent or caregiver accidentally administered an incorrect dose, sometimes due to inadequate label directions or defective measuring implements.
Narcotic painkillers, acetaminophen, psychiatric drugs, cardiovascular medications, and antihistamines are among the medicines most commonly associated with child poisoning injuries.
- Bleach and household cleaners: Bleach, floor cleaners, furniture polish, detergents, laundry pods, and other household cleaners are likely to cause nausea, vomiting, and possibly even death when ingested. But many of these products can also cause severe breathing problems and chemical burns if inhaled or applied to the skin.
- Paints and varnishes: Kids who swallow or inhale fumes from paints, lacquers, and varnishes, as well as the solvents used in their removal, can become seriously ill or even die. And while lead paint was banned in the 1970s, far too many children continue to suffer lead poisoning after eating paint chips shed from older buildings.
- Fertilizers and pesticides: Exposure to fertilizers and pesticides, whether by ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact, can cause illness, severe injury, and even death. Prenatal exposure to some pesticides has also been linked to birth defects, while long-term exposure may be associated with increased risks for cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and other ailments.
- Battery injuries: According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), hospitals treat more than 2,800 kids who’ve ingested small, shiny button batteries every year. These lithium-based batteries may lodge in the esophagus, where they can trigger a chemical reaction that results in serious internal burns.
- Mercury poisoning: Kids can be exposed to mercury by eating fish with high mercury concentrations or by ingesting batteries or paint from toys. Exposure to large amounts of mercury is associated with neurological damage that affects memory, attention span, and speech.
- Lead poisoning: While eating paint chips is a significant cause of lead poisoning, some Chinese-manufactured toys or tainted drinking water are also potential sources of lead poisoning. Kids under the age of 6 are particularly susceptible to the effects of lead poisoning, including learning disabilities, seizures, and other impairments of physical and mental development.
Prevent Child Poisoning
Most child poisonings occur when a parent or caregiver isn’t paying attention. Holidays, visits to and by grandparents, or any other circumstance that results in a change in routine can increase the risk of poisoning because usual precautions may not be in place.
To prevent child poisonings in the home, the AAP recommends that parents and caregivers:
- Store all cleaning products, pesticides, laundry pods, and other toxic substances in their original packaging and out of reach of kids. A locked cabinet is the best option.
- Use self-locking latches on any cabinet where medications or caustic substances are stored.
- Only purchase medications with safety caps, but remember that safety caps aren’t childproof. So, always store medicine out of reach and be sure to discard any unused medications.
- Never refer to prescription or over-the-counter drugs as “candy” or other appealing names to convince your son or daughter to take their medicine.
- Secure remote controls, key fobs, and any other gadget that uses button batteries out of reach of children.
- Keep e-cigarettes, e-liquids, and other tobacco products out of your child’s reach.
- Keep natural-gas-powered appliances, furnaces, and coal, wood, or kerosene stoves in safe working order. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
- Know the names of all plants in your house or yard. If you have kids or pets, consider removing any that are poisonous.
What to Do if Your Child Was Poisoned
Depending on the type of exposure, child poisoning can cause symptoms that range from mild to severe, including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Redness or burns in or around the mouth
- Changes in the size of the pupils
- Blurry vision
- Abdominal cramps, nausea, and/or vomiting
- Irregular heart rate
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar
- Convulsions or seizures
You might also notice burns, stains, or unusual odors on your child, on their clothing, or their breath.
If your child has no symptoms or only mild symptoms, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 for advice. Call 911 immediately if they’re unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures.
If your son or daughter has swallowed something poisonous, take the item away and have the child spit out any substance remaining in their mouth. But don’t attempt to make them vomit or administer Ipecac. According to the AAP, Ipecac is not only an ineffective remedy, but its use may also interfere with the effectiveness of other poison ingestion treatments.
If your child’s skin was exposed to a poisonous substance, remove their clothes and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for 15 minutes. If their eye has come in contact with a toxin, flush the eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the inner corner for 15 minutes.
Take your child outside for some fresh air if they’ve been exposed to poisonous fumes. If they’ve stopped breathing, start CPR and don’t stop until they’re breathing on their own, or until someone can take over.
Go to the emergency room immediately if your son or daughter has swallowed a button battery.
Negligence Actions for Child Poisoning
When someone undertakes the responsibility to supervise or provide other care to a child, the individual and, in many cases, their employer, acquire the duty to perform the job with reasonable care for the child’s health and safety. When a breach of that duty causes a child injury, the individual or entity charged with their care can be found liable for damages in an action for negligence.
If your son or daughter was under the care of a babysitter, a daycare center, a children’s camp, or school, for example, and was allowed access to pesticides, household cleaners, or other toxic substances, the supervisor responsible for your child’s safety, as well as their employer, may be held liable for your child’s poisoning injury and any associated costs.
However, if those providing care were employees of a public school, your state’s law might provide immunity from such liability. This immunity may be complete, so that neither the school nor its employee may be found liable to any extent, or partial, so that they may be found liable but may nevertheless be relieved, for example, from paying damages beyond a certain amount.
Product Liability Actions for Child Poisoning
In some cases, a supervisor’s negligence may combine with the fault of a product’s manufacturer or retailer in causing a child’s poisoning injury. In this case, actions for negligence against the supervisor and the supervisor’s employer, as well as actions for product liability against the manufacturer and others in the product’s chain of distribution, may be maintained.
Even when the negligence of a supervisor or other individual or entity hasn’t contributed to the poisoning of a child, the manufacturer of the product that was ingested may be found liable for the child’s injuries in a product-liability action if a defect in the product is shown to have caused the poisoning. This liability may extend not only to the manufacturer of the product but to anyone in the chain of the product’s distribution, such as the seller or distributor of the product.
In child poisoning cases, product-liability actions are often brought under failure to warn or defective packaging theories. If a manufacturer or seller fails to provide adequate warnings about the poisoning risks associated with a product, the product may be determined to have been unreasonably dangerous to the consumer, and therefore defective. The inadequacy of instructions for safe use may also be considered a defect in a product-liability suit.
In some cases, the defective packaging of a product may be determined in a product-liability action to have rendered the product unreasonably dangerous, and thus defective. If, for example, no (or inadequate) safety features have been included to keep children from opening a container and gaining access to poison, the product may be determined to be defective in a product-liability suit.
If your child has suffered a poisoning injury due to someone’s negligence or a defective product, contact nationally recognized Child Poisoning Lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for experienced and knowledgeable assistance with your case.