Summer Exposes Children to More Toxins, Chemicals

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COLUMBIA - To keep newly-opened pools clean and newly-sprouted plants green, homeowners will have to bust out chemicals that have been hiding in the shed all year. Extra chemicals and toxins around the home mean keeping a special eye on one group of people: children.

The Missouri Poison Center gets around 50 more phone calls a day during the summer season compared to the rest of the year. 

Julie Weber, director at the center, said there are precautions parents can take to avoid summer poison accidents.

"We really like to strongly, strongly suggest to get products up and locked away," Weber said. "You want them out of the sight of children."

One local mother had a scare when her daughter got a hold of some medicine left out on the counter.

"I looked over and she had some red-like paint stuff on her mouth and her fingers. I was like, 'What do you have?' and then started taking out Advil from her mouth," Jessica Geta-Buessler said.

Weber said one common mistakes parents make when taking summer trips is throwing medicines into a bag and then placing the bag in the back seat of the vehicle near children. She said it is important to keep bags with medicine up front or away from children.

Another summertime hazard is the oil used to put in tiki torches, known as a "lookalike" poison. The liquid is in a plastic bottle and is the same color as apple juice.

Here is a list of other poison lookalikes to keep an eye out for.

Windshield-wiper fiuid, mouthwash and rinse agent for dishwashers look similar to blue sports drinks.Windshield-wiper fluid, mouthwash and rinse agent for dishwashers look similar to blue sports drinks.

Laxatives and mini chocolate bars.

Glitter glue and denture adhesives can look similar to toothpaste.

Mouthwash and household cleaner also look similar to apple juice.

Gummy vitamins and gummy bears are nearly identical in appearance.


Ibuprofen tablets, iron supplement tablets and aspirin tablets look similar to candy-coated chocolates.

Candy can be mistaken for mice pellets and chewable cold medicine. 

Calcium supplement chewable tablets and candy also look similar in the eyes of children. 

Tips to help you look out for look-alikes by the Missouri Poison Center:

1. Remind children that vitamins are a form of medicine and should only be taken when given by an adult. Never make a game of taking medicine.

2. Do not store medicine and other household products in the same areas where food is stored. Store them out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.

3. Do not take medicine in front of your children.

4. Keep all products and medicines in their original containers. Weber said this is important because if a child does accidentally swallow medicine, a parent will be able to tell the poison control center what it was and possibly the ingredients in it.

5. Be aware that children learn to associate colors with flavors (yellow is lemon, red is cherry, etc.) but this can be dangerous.

6. Some windshield cleaner fluids look like blue sports drinks, but they are extremely hazardous. Swallowing even just one mouthful can cause blindness.

7. Keep a close eye on products when you are using them. Seventy-five percent of poison exposures happen while a product is in use. If you have to move away to answer the phone or the doorbell, take the child with you.


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