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According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately forty six percent of poisonings occur in children younger than 6 years old. There are currently fifty-five poison control centers in the United States and they receive nearly three million calls each year. Practice calling poison control with your children should help ever be needed. Children may be home with siblings or babysitting when a poisoning occurs. Arm them with information.
When calling Poison Control, you will speak directly to a poison specialist who is a registered nurse or pharmacist. Specialists must pass a national certifying exam to become CSPIs, Certified Specialists in Poison Information. These specialists are available to take calls and provide expert medical guidance in poison emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They will not judge they are there to help. There is no charge for calling Poison Control.
If it is not an emergency and you prefer not to call, you can get help from Poison Control experts online at www.PoisonHelp.org. Children should be trained to call Poison Control and not to make contact using the internet. You may also call with questions about poisons, not just poison emergencies.
Do not use the Internet option if any of the following exist.
Younger than 6 months old or older than 79 years old
Pregnant or may be pregnant
Suicidal or intended self-harm
More than one product is involved
A medication is taken repeatedly, more often than prescribed or directed
As they say, prevention in always the best medicine. Work on the following:
“Childproof” caps on medicines are not really childproof. They are simply child resistant and most kids will eventually get them opened. Keep all medications out of reach.
Clear out your medicine cabinet of any unused prescription medications and those over the counter medications no longer used.
Place child resistant latches on all cabinets and drawers where cleaning supplies are stored. Keep laundry supplies out of site and in a locked cabinet. Laundry detergent pods are more dangerous than other detergent types. If you have children under 6 years old, consider using traditional detergent rather than pods.
Place child resistant latches on all cabinets and drawers where vitamins and mouth wash is stored. Remember kids love to climb thus high cupboards do not necessarily make them safe.
Make sure purses and backpacks yours and guests’ are kept out of the reach of children at all times. Cosmetics as well as medications and even cough drops can be dangerous and are often kept in purses and backpacks.
Keep all liquids and medications in their original containers. Never put cleaners in bottles originally containing food or drinks.
Never tell a child a medication tastes like candy, another child may overhear and decide they need some too.
Store fruits with pits such as cherries and peaches out of reach of young children. Children may choke on these but if ingested they may also be poisonous.
Food extracts, such as vanilla and almond, may contain alcohol and can be harmful to kids. Keep them locked away.
Keep hazardous automotive products (windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, etc.) and gardening products out of reach in a securely locked area. Make sure they’re stored at temperatures according to package instructions.
Don’t leave alcoholic drinks where children can sample them.
Keep alcohol stored in a high, locked cabinet.
Never leave cosmetics and toiletries within easy reach of children. Be especially cautious with perfume, hair dye, hairspray, nail polish, nail polish remover and shoe polish.
Keep children away from houseplants and plants around your yard that can be poisonous. Place plants out of reach or buy only plants that are nonpoisonous. Many plants are poisonous so research before purchasing for your home or yard.
Keep batteries out of reach. Discard batteries immediately, especially the button batteries such as those in watches. If a child swallows a battery get them to the hospital immediately.
If you have an older home, crib, high chair or toys have the paint tested for lead. For more information, call the National Lead Information Center at (800) 424-LEAD (5323).
Lighter fluid is one of the leading causes of poisoning. Keep it locked safely away.
Now that your home is safer you need to prepare to react.
DO NOT wait for your child to have symptoms, even if you aren’t positive your child actually swallowed any of the poison, or if you aren’t sure what was swallowed is poisonous.
DO NOT call your pediatrician first to ask for advice if your child had contact with something that could be poisonous, call poison control. The specialists love getting calls from those taking action before a critical situation arises.
DO call 911 if your patient is having seizures, is not breathing, or is unresponsive.
The American Association for Poison Control Centers recommends the following first aid steps:
Don’t give your patient anything to eat or drink and don’t give your patient syrup of ipecac. Call poison control.
Get your child to fresh air. Call poison control.
Poisons on the Skin
Remove contaminated clothing. Rinse patient’s skin with water for 15 to 20 minutes while calling poison control. Do not wait until your treatment is done to call.
Poisons in the Eye
Flush eye with lukewarm water for 15 to 20 minutes using running water or a large cup held 2 to 4 inches from the eye to pour over the eye. Do not force your patient’s eye open.
Call poison control as you provide rinsing. Do not wait to call.
What will Poison Control ask when you call?
- Poison Control specialist will ask you several questions in order to make an accurate assessment of the situation’s severity and possible treatment. Some of the questions you may expect:
- Age of patient. Be exact.
- Let the poison specialist know immediately if the patient is unconscious or has any of the following; difficulty breathing , wheezing, bluish color to skin, lips, or nails. Be specific. Are they sweating or cold and clammy?
- Do not guess. If you have a scale nearby, you may be asked to weigh the patient. If you do not have a scale and the patient is a child, tell the specialist if the child is smaller or larger than average for his age.
- Health history. Let specialist know if the patient has any medical problems, allergies or takes any medications.
- The EXACT name of the product, as read from the label (if available). This is very important as mouth washes, for example, contain different ingredients even if they are the same brand. Many medications and household products also have very similar names.
- Size of the container. This information may be on a container in forms such as OZ, FL OZ, QTY, ML, or the number of pills. Even if the container was not full before the exposure, the poison specialist will need to know the size of the full container.
- The strength of the product. This may be in mg, mcg, mg/mL, mg/oz, mg/tsp, mg/#ml or it may be in %. Look for the area on the container that has active ingredients listed as these will also be required.
- When the exposure occurred. How long the exposure lasted if it was a contact exposure.
- The amount involved in the exposure. Do not estimate or guess or assume. If you don’t know say so.
- The name of patient, your name, phone number where you are located, zip code, and your relationship to the patient. The poison specialist will also ask you to confirm your address. Be careful and spell the name of the street. Peach Street and Beach Street for example, sound so similar they may be mistaken for each other.
- A return phone number is very important in case you are disconnected. Poison Control is providing treatment information by phone so they will call and check on the patient as a follow up..
All calls and internet communication with poison control is confidential. A computerized record of all calls is kept incase you or your doctor need this information in the future.
Never hesitate placing a call. There is no such thing as calling too often.
Review this information with your family. Place the Poison Control Center phone number in an easily accessed area in your home and make sure everyone knows where that is. Finally, copy this article and place it in your binder.
Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
Internet help from Poison Control: www.PoisonHelp.org.
National Lead Information Center: (800) 424-LEAD (5323).
Last week on Carolyn’s facebook page she addressed, teaching children preparedness, freeze dried foods, and more. This week it’s about mouse traps, face masks and plungers. When you like her page let her know you came from Meridian! Check it out and follow along. https://www.facebook.com/TotallyReady/