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Always turn the light on: tips to prevent accidental poisoning
National Poison Prevention Week is a nationally designated time to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them.
More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the 57 poison control centers across the country. More than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home. The majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than six years old. And, poisonings are one of the leading causes of death among adults.The pharmacy team at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital works closely with children admitted for accidental poisoning and their families by educating them about possible ways to prevent poisonings in the future. This is important because studies have shown if no changes in the household are made after the initial poisoning, there is a high risk that the poisoning will re-occur. Here are some strategies from the Poison Prevention Week Council you can use to prevent poisoning in your home:
- Re-close medicines and other household products if interrupted during use. Many incidents happen when adults are distracted when using these products (e.g., by the telephone or the doorbell).
- Buy products in child-resistant packaging whenever possible. But remember, child-resistant is not childproof, and is designed to keep children away from the product for a short time before a parent notices.
- If you think someone has been poisoned, call Poison Help ,1-800-222-1222, to reach your local poison center. Keep the toll-free Poison Help near your phone or program the number into your home and mobile phone.
- Read medicine and product labels before each use and follow directions exactly.
- Tell children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them.
- Never call medicine “candy” to get a child to take it.
- Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside.
- Always turn the light on when giving or taking medicine. Check the dosage every time.
- Never “borrow” a friend’s medicine or take old medicines.
- Tell your doctor what other medicines you are taking so you can avoid harmful or dangerous drug interactions. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine, vitamins and herbal products.
- Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically, and safely dispose of medicines that are expired or no longer needed.
- Don’t remove medicine from a child-resistant package and put it in another type of easy to open container.
- Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers whenever possible. If you transfer medicines to another container, such as a pill minder or organizer, store them in a place that is too high for a child to reach or see, since these containers are often not child-resistant. If possible, ensure the storage location has a safety latch.
- Keep cleaning products in their original container with their original label intact. Laundry product labels contain first aid information and are a valuable resource for consumers
- Never use food containers such as cups or bottles to store household and chemical products.
- Teach children that laundry and other cleaning products and their containers are not toys.
- Keep batteries out of a child’s reach. Contact the poison center right away if a child swallows a battery or a battery is missing from a toy or other household item, no matter how small the battery. Properly dispose of old batteries after they have been removed from an appliance.
- Keep magnetic toys and other magnetic items away from small children. Call the poison center right away if you suspect a child has swallowed a magnet.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors near or in your home’s sleeping areas and on every level of the home.
For more information, visit www.poisonprevention.org or talk to your pharmacist.