Accidental poisonings landed more than 130,000 children aged 19 and younger in emergency departments across the country in 2011. The majority of these poisonings (67,700) were from medications. Here are some tips in preventing poisonings:
- Keep medications, cleaners, and other toxic products out of reach and out of sight. This includes vitamins, diaper rash remedies, eye drops, cough drops, cosmetics, and other personal care items. Keeping items up high may not be enough, be sure to use locking or latching cabinets.
- Consider where children may get into medicine. Check your purse, counters, nightstands, etc. for potential hazards, and make sure all medications are accounted for (dropped or misplaced medicine accounted for 27% of emergency department visits for poisoning in 2011).
- Put the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) phone number in your home and cell phone. Keeping the number handy may be exactly what you need in a time of crisis. Remember to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
- Close medications tightly after every use, and use original, child-resistant packaging. This will help deter children from accessing medications.
- Use the dosing device that comes with the medicine, and read dosing instructions carefully. Even if you have used that medication before, it is important to read the label, sometimes dosages change. Using the dosing device is also important, as kitchen spoons vary widely in size, and a measuring spoon may give a different dose than the actual dosing device that came with the medicine.
- Be alert to visitors’ medicine and to medicine in places your child visits. In emergency department cases where information was known, 38% involved a grandparent’s medicine, 31% the mother’s medicine, 12% a sibling’s medicine, 8% the father’s medicine, 5% an aunt or uncle’s medicine, and 6% other.
- Communicate to caregivers, talk to your kids, and educate grandparents on medication safety. The more people that are aware of potential hazards, the easier it is to avoid them.
- Install a Carbon Monoxide Alarm to prevent poisoning. Because of their high metabolic rates and high tissue oxygen demands, children are biologically at an increased risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning when exposed to it.
If you have any questions regarding poisoning and children, contact DeAnn Sharp.
If your family has a poison related emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency cases, call the Washington Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.