Despite the use of childproof containers and poison awareness programs poisoning from prescription and non-prescription drugs continues to be very common in the US today. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that in 2009 almost 40% of all poisonings occured in children younger than three years old, and more than 50% in children under the age of six.
Toddlers are especially prone to poisonings because they are mobile, curious, and put many things in their mouth. And importantly, because of their low body weight, even small amounts of substances, such as 1-2 adult-strength tablets or a small amount of liquids can result in serious reactions and a potentially fatal dose.
Here are a few simple guidelines for keeping children safe:
1. Put the Poison Control number near every home telephone and on you cell phone: 1-800-222-1222
2. Keep all drugs in medicine cabinets that young children cannot reach.
3. Don’t take medicine in front of children because they like to copy adults.
4. Don’t call medicine “candy”.
5. Don’t let house guests leave medicine where children can find them, such as in a purse, backpack, coat pocket, or unlocked suitcase.
6. Don’t leave medicine to be taken sit on a counter top.
7. Don’t throw medicine away where children can find them. Check with your pharmacist about what to do with medicine you no longer need.
What to do if a poisoning happens.
1. Stay calm.
2. Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has passed out or is not breathing.
3. If the victim is awake and responsive call the Poison Control Center number.
4. Be prepared with the following information: age and weight of victim; time poisioning happened; what the victim took; where the poisoning happened.
5. Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.
Let’s all work hard to keep our children safe and healthy.