March 18, 2004
Hospital urges parents to make sure homes are poison-proofed during National Poison Prevention Week
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Every March, National Poison Prevention Week calls attention to household products that can be deadly in the wrong hands.
But if more lives are to be saved, poison control should truly be an everyday concern, says Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide injury prevention program.
“Parents and caregivers can’t ever afford to let down their guard,” Fairburn said. “The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that a child is poisoned every 30 seconds in the United States.”
Fairburn said parents and caregivers should be especially cautious around children under age 6—who are the victims of 60 percent of all poisonings.
According to the Mississippi Regional Poison Control Center, 9,384 of the 15,861 accidental poisonings reported to the center in 2003 involved children under age 6. Most of those victims were 1 to 3-year-olds.
“Children can get into things fast and parents need to be prepared,” said Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director at Methodist Rehab in Jackson. “If you suspect your child has been poisoned, stay calm and contact your poison control center and family physician immediately.”
Dr. Vohra says don’t rely on child-resistant containers to be “child-proof.” Given enough time, a curious child can get such containers open.
“Make sure harmful chemicals and medicines are out of sight in a locked cabinet,” urges Dr. Vohra.
Fairburn said it’s also important to keep potentially harmful products in their original containers and not remove labeling.
“Never refer to medicine as candy and avoid taking medicines in front of children, since children tend to imitate adults,” said Fairburn.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications, household cleaning products, cosmetics and plants are the most common type of products involved in accidental poisonings, says Michael Hughes, director of Mississippi Regional Poison Control Center.
“People are most surprised and unprepared for plant poisonings and poisoning from everyday products like mouthwash, cigarette butts, perfumes and alcoholic drinks,” said Hughes. “Preventing easy access to children is key to preventing poisonings.”
If a poisoned child is unconscious, having difficulty breathing or experiencing convulsions, Dr. Vohra says to immediately call 9-1-1. Otherwise call your poison control center and pediatrician quickly.
Things to know when you call Poison Control:
- Child’s age and weight
- Child’s current condition
- Name of the product, ingredients and amount ingested
- Time of poisoning
Think First tips for poison preventions:
- Post the poison control number—1-800-222-1222—on or near every home telephone.
- Stay alert while using poisonous household products. While cleaning, know where children are and never leave a child alone in a room with a poisonous product.
- Never put potentially poisonous products in something other than their original container where they could be mistaken for something harmless.
- Never mix household and chemical products together and open all windows and doors when using chemicals.
- Make sure plants inside and out are not poisonous to children.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors near the bedrooms in your house.
For a poison prevention packet, call the Mississippi Regional Poison Control Center at 601-815-1444. The Mississippi Regional Poison Control Center provides treatment recommendations for venomous animal bites and stings, food poisoning, occupational poisoning, drug overdose, pill identification, household product poisonings and poisonous plants. For more information about Think First safety and injury prevention programs, go to methodistonline.org.