Especially in young children, accidents in and around the home are a major cause of illness. By nature children are inclined to investigate everything and to be impulsive. Whenever parents forbid their children to do certain things, such as tasting the berries in the garden, exploring the kitchen cupboard or the medicine chest, or crossing the street by themselves, these warnings are effective to young children only as long as the parents are around. When the parents are no longer present, the warning will lose its effect and the natural inquisitiveness of the child may win. For this reason it is not wise to burden children with too many responsibilities and merely give warnings. It is also necessary to take steps to steer the inquisitiveness of the child into good channels and to minimize the chances of accidents. One of the simplest ways is to make sure that detergents and medicines are kept out of reach or under lock and key. The reason that children are capable of poisoning themselves with the most bitter and sour-tasting substances is because their taste buds are not yet properly developed. When there is even only the slightest suspicion that the child’s complaint is being caused by poisoning, one should notify a doctor. Symptoms that may be the result of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, convulsions, drowsiness and hallucinations. If possible one should also inform the doctor of what the child has swallowed, the quantity and when it happened. From this the doctor will be
Able to advise which measures should be taken, whether activated charcoal should be given, whether the child should be made to drink milk or water or whether or not the child should be made to vomit. It is not always advisable to make a child vomit after it has swallowed poison, because some corrosive liquids, such as bleach and strong acids, may then damage the gullet a second time. Also, when the child is drowsy, it is better not to make it vomit, because in such cases there is a very real chance that vomit will enter the lungs and this may lead to pneumonia.