Tips to Prevent Accidental Alcohol Ingestion in Kids

Working at the Drug and Poison Information Center (DPIC), I answer a lot of questions from callers about accidental exposures to harmful substances. One particular danger that I would like to warn parents about is accidental alcohol ingestion. Because we receive on average 20 calls per year related to this, it’s an important message to keep in mind.

Alcohol is potentially toxic to children, and it only takes a small amount for it to be dangerous to them. Alcohol can affect a child’s blood sugar and central nervous system and slow down breathing. And due to their smaller size, children are more likely to get toxicity from ingesting alcohol than adults.

Here are four tips to help prevent accidental alcohol ingestion.

Tips to Help Prevent Accidental Alcohol Ingestion

  • Don’t leave drinks unattended. Be cognizant of where you or guests have left unfinished drinks, and clean them up frequently. If you’ve hosted a party at your house, be sure to clean up the unfinished drinks before you go to bed.
  • Put it away. Store alcohol in a place that is out of the reach of your children, or better yet, lock them up.
  • Keep products containing alcohol safe and out of reach. Think about what items in your home may contain alcohol and keep them in a safe place. Some of these items include perfumes, scented oils, and hand sanitizer.
  • Talk to your child. If your kids are old enough to understand, talk to them about the potential dangers.

Signs of Accidental Alcohol Ingestion in Children

There are many symptoms that can occur with accidental alcohol ingestion. If your child is showing one of the symptoms below, call 911 immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Choking or vomiting
  • Confusion or seizures
  • Dizziness, slurred speech, or inability to walk normally or think clearly

If you suspect your child has accidentally ingested alcohol please call the Drug and Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. We will be able to perform a calculation based on your child’s weight and other factors to estimate his or her blood alcohol content.

Sheila Goertemoeller, PharmD, D.ABAT

About the Author: Sheila Goertemoeller, PharmD, D.ABAT

Sheila Goertemoeller PharmD, DABAT, ICPS is a pharmacist and clinical toxicologist with 22 years of experience at the Drug and Poison Information Center Hotline at Cincinnati Children’s.

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  1. Lady Lilith December 03, 15:39
    Alcohol consumption can be really scary. There was an incident with hand sanitizer in a school I worked in so all hand sanitizer machines were removed. We all now have to use soap and water. It is actually very scary to see a child in that state.