Dr Festus Bamidele, a paediatric consultant at the Isolo General Hospital, Lagos,, has advised parents against keeping poisonous substances and sharp objects within the reach of their children.
He said that most cases of poisoning happened at home, but they could also happen while visiting friends and family or during holidays.
The paediatrician said that poisoning was common, especially among toddlers, children aged between one and four years.
According to him, substances which are similar to water in nature should be kept in tight containers and out of reach of the children, who are unsuspecting.
“Cases of food poisoning in children are being heard of everyday in the hospitals and health centres.
“Young children do not know the difference between what is safe and what is dangerous. It is your responsibility as a parent or carer to make your home safe for children.
“Do not assume that your child can understand safety messages. Mere telling a child a product is dangerous is not enough to protect them from poisoning.
“These children see substances like kerosene as water, especially when it is stored in used table water bottles and kept on the floor.
“Cases of children drinking kerosene are the commonest occurrence of poisoning.
“We can blame this on parents’ carelessness, especially when you have a child, who is less than six years old in the house.
“Children, who are just beginning to crawl are usually the most curious, because they learn by sight, the only thing they know is to pick anything up and put it in their mouths,” Bamidele said.
He said children might also be poisoned if they were given the wrong medicine or a wrong dose, stressing that carers/parents should always double check the age and dosage instructions before giving them medicine.
The doctor said that these children might pick up a pack of carelessly placed drugs or insecticides or even detergents and other poisonous cleaning agents.
The paediatrician said, “we have not even spoken about electrical appliances kept carelessly on the floor in most homes, which can be very dangerous to toddlers too.
“Children generally should be prevented from going near things like that, these cases are pathetic when we see them, parents should take caution”.
He also advised parents against keeping alcoholic drinks within the reach of children, especially in unlocked refrigerators.
Bamidele said if a child had ingested a poison, any symptoms that developed depended on certain factors, such as which medicine or chemical was involved and how much the child had been exposed to.
He, however, listed symptoms of poisoning to include; nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, falling over, abdominal pain and fitting.
“If you suspect a child has been exposed to a poison, or given the wrong medicine or the wrong dose, do not wait for symptoms to occur, go to hospital or contact a doctor immediately for advice,” he said.