Danger in Your Home
Your house could be a dangerous place if you’re not careful. There are more than two million episodes of poisonings annually in this country, and 92 percent of them occur at home. Young children are the most likely victims of household poisonings. To help protect your family from the dangers of poisoning, it’s important to know which household substances are most likely to cause poisoning, and how you can prevent it from happening.
Causes of household poisoning
Common household items that often cause poisoning include cleaning substances, laundry detergents, pain relievers, cosmetics, personal care, automotive and gardening products, cigarette butts, plants, and cough and cold medications. For a small child, even one adult-strength pain pill or a single adult medicine can be deadly. For an extensive and often surprising list of toxic products, search the A.D.A. M. Medical Encyclopedia Poisons Reference.
To help prevent poisonings in your home, follow these simple, but important, guidelines:
- Check all rooms in the house for poisons, even the bedroom and living room.
- Store medication and household products in their original packaging, out of the reach of children. Very dangerous substances should be kept in a locked cabinet.
- Buy medicine and household products in child-resistant packages, and keep caps on tight.
- Never put inedible products in food or drink containers.
- Make a distinction between medicines and other products when talking to your children. Don’t call medicines cute names to encourage your child to take them.
- If you keep medication in your purse, store it out of your child’s reach.
- Discard old medicines and toxic products.
Symptoms of poisoning can vary, depending on the product. Some common symptoms are slowed breathing, rapid eye movements, rapid heartbeat and drowsiness. These and other symptoms may not appear for up to 12 hours after ingesting the poisonous material.
“If you suspect someone has been poisoned, call 911 or your local poison control center immediately,” says E. O., M.D., emergency medicine physician, professor and medical director of the division of toxicology at The University Hospital. “Do not wait for the person to look or feel sick. Keep a bottle of syrup of ipecac in your home, but use it only when instructed by the poison control center.”
When you call 911 or the poison control center, have the following information ready: the victim’s age, weight, and condition; the name of the product and ingredients, if known; the time it was swallowed; and the amount swallowed. If possible, take the empty bottle(s) that contained the ingested substance with you to the hospital.
Sources: The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
The Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning is a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to preventing childhood lead poisoning.
Check your household cleaners; how can you tell is there is a problem?
Go here to learn more about common antidotes.
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