A poisoning is when someone swallows, breathes, touches or gets splashed in the eye with a substance that can cause sickness or death. Many times the substances alone are not poisonous. An adult may take an aspirin to ease some pain, but when a two-year-old ingests a handful of pills thinking they’re candy, it can result in a much more serious issue.
Though your home is an environment where you think you have the most control, 90% of all poisonings occur in the home.
Top 5 causes of poisoning:
- Cosmetic or personal products
- Household cleaning products
- Foreign bodies, toys and other objects
- Sedatives, hypnotics and antipsychotics medicine
How common is poisoning?
- Drug-related poisonings cause nearly 700,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms each year.
- Poisonings cause more than 35,000 deaths each year.
Who’s at risk?
- Children under then age of 6 years old account for half of all poisonings.
- More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver wasn’t looking.
- 92% of poisoning deaths occur among people over the age of 20.
Here are some simple precautions you can share with your friends and family to help prevent poisoning accidents from occurring in your home:
How to prevent poisonings:
- Keep all medicines – including prescriptions or over-the-counter – and vitamins out of reach. Find a storage place that is too high for a child to reach or see. This could even be the top of your refrigerator.
- Never leave medicines out on a kitchen counter or bedside table. Put them away every time you use them – even if you use them every day.
- Make sure the safety cap is locked. If the bottle has a locking cap, be sure to twist it until you hear the click or cannot twist it anymore. Some children can open lids, too –so store them away after each use.
- Teach your children about medicine safety. Tell your children what medicine is and why they need you to give it to them. Don’t encourage them by telling them that medicine is candy.
- Tell guests about medicine safety. Ask visitors and house guests to keep purses, bags, coats, etc, that have medicines in them to keep them up and away from children while they are in your home. Grandparents who have pill boxes and haven’t had young children in the house for many years may need to be reminded to keep their medications out of the reach of children.
- Store cleaning products in an area which is away from food and not accessible to young children or pets.
- Store products in their original containers and keep the original label intact. Product use and storage, disposal instructions, precautions and first aid instructions vary according to their ingredients. It can be dangerous to use a product incorrectly or to follow the wrong emergency procedures.
- Put cleaning products away immediately after use. This will help limit accessibility to young children and help prevent accidental spills.
- Keep buckets containing cleaning solutions out of the reach of young children.
- Don’t Mix cleaning products. Products which are safe when used alone can sometimes cause dangerous fumes if mixed with other products.
- Don’t Reuse an empty household cleaning product container for any other purpose. The label instructions and precautions for the original product may be inaccurate or dangerous if used for a different product.
If you do find yourself facing a suspected poisoning, the Poisoning Help line is open year-round 24 hours a day and is staffed by nurses, pharmacists, doctors and poison experts year-round.
Be sure to program the poison prevention hotline number into your home and mobile phones: 1-800-222-1222
Sources: American Cleaning Institute and Poison Prevention.org