National Poison Prevention Week is March 16-22. Poisoning is now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, ahead of car accidents and guns. Each year, a child six years of age or younger was poisoned every thirty seconds. Another statistic....approximately 2.4 million people, more than half under the age of 6, swallow or come into contact with a poisonous substance. These statistics are staggering!
Parents and caregivers can impact these “scary” statistics by committing to poison-proofing their homes. This is an ongoing project but should begin when your child is 6-9 months of age and is slowly becoming mobile. Begin with easy things:
- store all medicines and household products out of reach of children and preferably in a locked cabinet.
- store poisons in their original containers so that you know what is in the container. This is very important if your child ever gets into poison in order that you know what they ingested. No guessing if in the original container.
- use child - resistant packaging, but remember, NOTHING is truly child proof.
- take medications out of purses and diaper bags.
Teach your children that medicines are NOT candy. Children watch adults take medicine, so take your medication out of sight of your young children. Lock all medication back up immediately after you have taken it. Make sure to read labels on all medications and products and follow the directions. For young children most medication is dosed by weight rather than age. Be careful not to overdose over the counter products. Use the proper measuring dropper or syringe to dose all medication.
Should your child ingest a poison you need to have the number to poison control available. Poison Help number is 1-800-222-1222 and is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If in doubt call the Poison Help hotline, rather than your pediatricians office as the poison center network are the experts. You can discuss their recommendations with you doctor if necessary AFTER you have called Poison Help Line.
There is also a great ”app” for Poison Help. There is a one-click connection to the poison help center from the app. The site also has a medication identification tool, first aid information and poison safety tips.
Take this week to look over your home and “re-childproof”. Fix those broken cabinet latches, throw out any old or unused medication and post the Poison Help Line number in a visible place.