There are currently more than 55 poison control centers located throughout the United States and in 2013 they received over 3.1 million reports of poisoning; ninety percent of these occurred in the home.
This means that 9 out of ten poisonings occur in the home. Most non-fatal poisonings occur in children under six, whereas poisoning is a leading cause of death for adults.
Over 80% of the poisonings that occur in the home occur in one to six year olds. From prescription medicine to antifreeze, the number of everyday products we have around the house that are poisonous is immense.
The most common drug that kids overdose on is paracetamol, a drug used to help reduce pain in kids and adults.
Other common household items that kids get accidentally poisoned with are codeine, dish washing liquid, bleach, mushrooms and antifreeze just to name a few.
Why poisoning in the home is so high is not a mystery; it is improper storage of these products. In a study done by the Home Safety Council they found that only 20% of the population have locks on the cabinets where poisons are stored and have the poison control number in a readily available place.
Parents should start with a walk-through of their house and take notice of what is stored in every room and how it is protected. Here are some helpful tips on how you can do this in the most effective manner.
Tips for Preventing Accidental Poisonings
Whenever you bring medicine into the house, make sure you store it in a secure place; this means that any cabinets that contain prescription as well as over the counter medicines should be locked. Put child safety locks on them.
Whenever taking medicine yourself, or giving it to your children make sure the light is on so that you can read the directions once again so there is no accident in the amount given to yourself or your child. Make sure you read the directions every time.
In your walk-through, discard every outdated prescription in the proper manner. Except a few drugs that the FDA singles out you should not be flushing them down the toilet.
Take the expired drugs out of their original container and mix them with coffee grounds or cat litter. Place them in a sealed container like an old plastic margarine container of a plastic bag that seals shut.
Place them in a plastic bag and place in the garbage. Make sure you take the labels off of the bottles and place the bottles with them inside the plastic bag.
(Note: Place them in the garbage the night you take the garbage out so that they will not be sitting out for any child or animal to get into.
Yes, kids and animals can and will get into the garbage when least expecting it and if the drugs are readily available they could get poisoned.
The following are drugs that the FDA has currently OK’d for being flushed down the toilet.
Abstral, Actiq, Avinza, Daytrana, Demerol, Diastat, Dilaudid, Dolophine, Hydrochloride, Duragesic, Embeda, Exalgo, Fentora, Kadian, Methadone Hydrochloride, Methadose, Morphine Sulfate, MS Contin, Nucynta ER, Onsolis, Opana, Oramorph SR, Oxecta, Oxycodone Hydrochloride, Oxycontin, Percocet, Percodan, Xyrem
Make sure you keep all medicines, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, button batteries and any other potential poisons in their original packaging with the correct dosage or amount needed to clean or whatever the potential poison is used for.
Know the active ingredient in each medicine so that if there is a problem you will know what to report or how to counteract it.
Never refer to medicine as “candy” around the children. You want them to have a healthy respect for medicine and this will not nurture this.
Use child proof caps on all medicines as well as vitamins and other over the counter medications. Be extremely careful of any medicines containing iron, as this is one of the leading causes of death in young children who are poisoned.
Because dosages are based on weight you should know your child’s weight and give the medicine accordingly. If it is not clear for the weight of your child you should call your health care professional.
Use the measuring device that comes with the medicine so to measure the exact amount that you are to give them.
Keep all alcohol locked up. This, too, is poisonous to kids.
All cleaning products should be kept in their original containers with the original labels. Make sure they are in a cupboard with a child lock.
Know the difference between a tablespoon (tbsp) and a teaspoon (tsp). A tablespoon holds three times as much medicine as a teaspoon. On measuring tools, a teaspoon (tsp) is equal to five milliliters.
Do not mix medicines unless you have asked your or your child’s pediatrician if it is OK. A lot of medicines are fine alone but when mixed can cause problems.