Consumer Reports: Protecting kids from household dangers

The amount of young children getting into potentially harmful things around the house is staggering. Recent data show that out of two million poison control calls made, nearly half concerned kids ages 6 and under. Consumer Reports tells you which household products are the most risky, and what you can do to prevent your child from accidentally consuming a dangerous substance.

It's every parent's worst nightmare: finding that your child has accidentally ingested a potentially dangerous household product. For Smily Tapia, it was a battery that caused a terrible scare with her young daughter.

"She opened the toy and put the battery in her mouth," Tapia said. "I thought, like, she's going to die."

According to the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide, more than 2,800 kids per year in the U.S. are treated in ERs after swallowing button-batteries.

Consumer Reports suggests that toys and other household electronics have battery compartments secured with a screwdriver or a similar method.

"Button-cell batteries are small flat batteries that look like coins," said Consumer Reports Product Safety Expert Don Huber. "It becomes a choking hazard, and asphyxiation may occur."

And there are more dangers in your house you might not think about. Cosmetics and personal care products were the most common exposures reported to poison control centers for children under 6.

"Many of them contain ethanol which is the same type of alcohol you find in alcoholic beverages," Huber said. "Just a small amount can cause a young child of say 25 pounds or less to become extremely intoxicated."

Also dangerous: cleaning products. When it comes to these items, you can do more than just store them out of the reach of children.

"Keep personal care products and cleaners and other things in the package in which they were bought because typically they have a child-resistant closure on them," Huber said.

As for those colorful laundry detergent pods that can look like candy? Consumer Reports recommends not even having them in the house, if you have young kids.
After Smily Tapia's scare, she now has specific strategies to keep her house safe.

"I believe that you should keep everything in a safe place even though you think it's nothing, because you never know," Tapia said.

Remember that even if you put some of these products in a higher place in the house, a curious child may try to use a chair to reach them. If you suspect that your child ingested some kind of toxic product, contact national Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222, available 24 hours a day. And call 911 if you see that your child faints, doesn't wake up or is bleeding.

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