Every community is affected by poisonings and poisoning-related incidents that range from unintentional child poisoning with household products to prescription medicine abuse.
Nearly 90 percent of childhood poisonings happen in the home. Seventy percent of all poisoning accidents in the United States occur with children under the age of five. From fertilizer and pest control products, to medicines and makeup, poisonous items can be found throughout the home. Some of the other common poisonous substances include paint thinner, cleaning products, anti-freeze, poisonous plants, contaminated food, prescription and over-the-counter medicines, illegal drugs and metals such as lead and mercury, which can be found in old thermometers and batteries.
The symptoms of poisoning depend on a number of factors including the substance that you are exposed to, your age and health. Possible symptoms of poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, drowsiness, sudden change in behavior, confusion, unusual odor, pill fragments on the lips or clothes, excessive drooling or dry mouth, pupils that are bigger or smaller than normal, trouble breathing and unconsciousness.
Since children are curious and will eat or drink almost anything, it is important to take measures to protect your family by avoiding exposure to harmful substances.
You can help prevent poisoning by:
Keeping medications in locked cabinets that are too high for a child to reach;
Never telling a child that medicine tastes like candy;
Labeling everything inside your medicine cabinet and getting rid of old or expired medicines;
Never putting cleaning products in containers that were once used for food or drink;
Discarding used button cell batteries (like those in watches) and safely storing any unused ones;
Never putting insect poison on the floor;
Using only rat or mouse control household products that are contained in a tamper-resistant bait station and not loose bait and pellets;
Keeping cleaning products and alcohol in locked cabinets or far out of reach;
Keeping hazardous automotive and gardening products in a securely locked area;
Never leaving alcoholic drinks where kids can reach them and being mindful of drinks left behind at parties or when entertaining guests;
Never running your car in your garage, other than when you are driving in and out;
Installing a carbon monoxide detector to keep you safe in case of a carbon monoxide leak in your home; and
Asking visitors and houseguest while in your home, to keep purses, bags or coats that have medicines in them up and away and out of sight.
The poison control help line number (1-800-222-1222) should be kept by the telephone in every household. In the case a poisoning or suspected poisoning you should call the poison control center immediately. They are available to give you proper instructions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, if the victim of a poisoning has a change in mental status, has collapsed or is not breathing, you should call 911 immediately.
This is Dr. Beryl Bachus-Keith reminding you that prevention is the key to good health and wellness, so make a vow and commit to good health. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”