Beware of Poisonous Houseplants (page 2)
Plants are among the most common household substances that children may eat. But, did you know that some common indoor and outdoor houseplants are poisonous? In fact, some very common houseplants are the leading causes of poisoning in children under 6 years old.
To protect our children, we need to know which plants are poisonous and keep them out of the reach. The National Health and Safety Performance Standards (Caring for Our Children) also calls for forbidding poisonous or potentially harmful plants in any part of a child care facility that is accessible to children.
Plants are regarded as poisonous or toxic when they cause some type of problem or reaction. Reactions can range from mild to serious. Symptoms may vary from a mild stomachache, skin rash, and burning or swelling of the mouth and throat to severe vomiting and diarrhea, involvement of the liver, heart, kidneys, other organs, and coma.
Common poisonous California houseplants
Determining whether or not your houseplant is toxic may be difficult. You may call your local poison control center and request a list of poisonous plants common in your area. If you do not know the name of a plant in or around your home, take a piece of the plant to a plant nursery for identification.
Tips for prevention
- Keep all plants away from small children.
- Check your home, child care environment and yard for unsafe plants. Keep any unknown plant out of children’s reach.
- Place plants behind a glass enclosure to keep children from touching them.
- Safely dispose of cuttings, trimmings and leaves from potentially harmful plants so children do not have access to them.
- Teach children never to pick and eat anything from a plant without your permission, no matter how it looks.
- Supervise children carefully outdoors.
When should you call poison control?
If you suspect a child has ingested a poisonous plant, do the following:
- Remove any remaining plant parts from the mouth.
- If the victim is choking and cannot breathe, call 9-1-1.
- Otherwise, call the Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.
- If you are advised to go to an emergency room for treatment, take the plant or a part of the plant with you, not just a single leaf or berry.
Reprinted with the permission of the California Childcare Health Program.
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