As children reach school age, parents may breathe a sigh of relief. They might think their older children are no longer at risk for poisoning.
Although the risk may be slightly less for children ages 6-12 years, this group of children is still at risk for poisoning. Remember, a poison is anything that can harm someone if it is used:
- in the wrong way
- by the wrong person
- in the wrong amount
Most poisonings in children ages 6-12 years are still unintentional but preventable.
Risk factors for poisoning in older children include:
- Independence: As children get older, they become more independent. They feel they can do more on their own, which can lead to medicine mishaps.
- Spending time alone: As children get older, there is less adult supervision. This leaves time for the children to experiment with medicines and household products.
- Magical thinking: When children are faced with choices, they do not always use proper logic to make those choices. They will come up with reasons to support their choice, even if those reasons make no sense to adults.
- Inability to associate cause and effect: Children do not think bad things will happen to them. They think bad things only happen to "someone else." They don't realize that if they make bad choices, they can become that "someone else."
- Inability to understand label directions: Children may misread or misinterpret medicine or household product labels. They may not fully understand the instructions, leading to a mishap with the medicine or product.
- Dares: Most children are faced with a dare from a friend or classmate at some time or another. Many dares are harmless; others can have severe consequences.
- Introduction to substance abuse: Studies show that children are experimenting with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and household products at a younger age.
- Talk to young children about the safe use of household products and medicines.
- Stress the importance of asking an adult before taking a medicine or using a household product.
- As children get older, review product labels with them so they can find the necessary information that will help them use the product safely.
- Children under the age of 12 should not take medicine on their own. An adult should supervise a child each time they take a medicine, even if it is something they take every day.
- Talk honestly about the dangers of misusing household products and medicines.
- Talk about peer pressure and dares.
Please explore these additional resources to help prevent poisonings in older children. These resources are provided for informational use only.