Prevention is The Best Line of Defense Against Poisoning
Poisoning is dangerous and can even be deadly. The worst thing about poisoning is, children are most susceptible to it.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, more than two million poisoning cases are reported each year to poison centers across the United States. Half of the cases involve children under 6 years old. Most cases involved ingesting household items and unsecured medications.
But the good news is, it can be prevented. This assertion is highly supported by the American Association of Poison Control Centers as well.
In addition, one toxicologist underscored prevention and supervision as the best line of defense against poisoning in children as part of the observation of of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25.
Cyrus Rangan, M.D., assistant medical director of the California Poison Control System, is stressing poison prevention in homes, where 80 percent of poison control calls originate.
“We don’t like treating children with poisonings. We like preventing them from getting them in the first place,” Dr. Rangan says. “And as we get into spring and summer months, and children are spending more time at home … despite how much supervision we give them, children still are very capable at finding substances and possibly causing a poisoning emergency.”
Toxicologist Tips to Avoid Poisoning Among Children
1. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CHILDPROOF.
Dr. Rangan stressed the importance of keeping medications from reach of little children. This means locking away meds that children can open or break. It is also important not to transfer pills to other containers, such as flip-top canisters labeled with days of the week. This makes it harder to determine what a child accidentally swallowed and how to treat it.
2. DON’T CALL IT CANDY.
Be honest with your kids by not giving in into tricking them into taking their medicine by pretending it’s candy. Dr. Rangan said, “Medicine is medicine, candy is candy. Make sure we keep them separate not only in our homes but also in our minds.”
3. NEW PRODUCTS, NEW POISONS.
In the last few years, products like laundry/dishwasher detergent pods; e-cigarettes (and their cartridges); and energy drinks have all become popular. All contain highly concentrated chemicals – detergent, nicotine, caffeine – and are often scented or flavored. These are especially dangerous for younger kids. “We’ve seen very, very young children who swallow some of these and end up in the intensive care unit, have a change in their mental status and wind up on respirators,” says Dr. Rangan.
4. TO KIDS, BLEACH LOOKS LIKE WATER, CLEANING POWDERS LOOK LIKE CUPCAKE SPRINKLES
Dr. Rangan stressed placing household cleaners in their proper place, such as in a garage for cleaning items. These items may look like water if placed anywhere. Dr. Rangan said, “You may have a bottle that has a brownish liquid in it. If it’s in your refrigerator, it’s very likely to be apple juice. But if it’s in your garage, it’s likely to be a cleaner. Because they look the same and are sometimes in bottles that are very, very similar, a young child tends not be able to tell the difference.”
5. 1-800-222-1222. EXPERTS ARE STANDING BY.
Keep this hotline in mind. Despite your best efforts, a child may still come in contact with a toxic substance. Dr. Rangan advises to call 911 if the child stops breathing or responding. Otherwise, the national 24-hour Poison Control Hotline, 1-800-222-1222, will connect you to certified specialists at your regional poison control center. Many are nurses and pharmacists, backed up by medical toxicologists like Dr. Rangan, who can help parents determine whether to stay home or go to the ER.