Why do children swallow bleach? Because it looks like water.
Children will not, like adults, first sniff an unknown substance to figure out what is. They just go for it and take a sip.
Luckily, bleach has a terrible taste, and most children never take in more than a mouthful.
This small amount of bleach may cause a number of unpleasant symptoms like nausea and vomiting, but is usually not enough to cause any serious damage.
Things parents do that might make matters worse:
1. Keeping bleach in unmarked containers on low shelves is a recipe for disaster. Keep it out of the reach of children.
2. Shouting, screaming and becoming hysterical when realising one’s child ingested bleach will only worsen matters and upset the child.
3. Inducing vomiting. This is not a good idea and often the worst thing you can do. In an upset child, vomiting can cause some of the vomitus to end up in the lungs. This is potentially fatal.
What parents should do:
1. Give your child 150 to 200 ml water or milk. (less or more depending on the child’s age)
2. Rinse the child’s mouth.
3. Take the container containing the bleach with when going to the hospital.
4. If you notice severe vomiting or difficulty breathing your child needs immediate attention.
5. Take off all clothes that might have spilled bleach on them. The fumes may upset your child and may make matters worse if they suffer from asthma.
The bottom line: keep containers with poisons away from children! It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure the safety of your child.
Prevention of poisoning
1. Use child-resistant caps on all containers of poisonous substances and lock these away.
2. Remove all poisonous plants from your garden.
3. Don’t remove products from their original packaging.
4. Dispose of outdated medications.
5. Avoid taking medication in front of children as they may imitate you.
6. Turn the light on when giving or taking medicine.
7. Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products.
8. Wear protective clothing (gloves, long pants, long sleeves, socks, shoes) when spraying pesticides and other chemicals.
9. Never mix household chemical products. A poisonous gas may be created when mixing chemicals.
10. Do not burn fuels or charcoal or use petrol-powered engines in confined spaces such as garages.
11.Check your house for lead-based paints.
12. Ask visitors to keep their medication or other poisonous substances well out of reach of children.