National Poison Prevention Week is March 15-21, 2020. This week is an opportunity to highlight the dangers of poisonings for people of all ages and to promote community involvement in poison prevention.
What types of substances can be poisonous?
Poison can come in solid, liquid, spray, or gas form. Some common examples include:
- Carbon monoxide
- Personal care products
- Household chemicals
- Insect bites and stings
Did you know that each day 374 children ages 0-19 are treated in an emergency department and 2 children die as the result of being poisoned, according to the CDC.
The National Capital Poison Center published statistics showing children younger than 6 years make up nearly half of poison exposures (45.2%), followed by adults (39.5%), then teens (8.1%). Everyone is susceptible to harm from poisoning! The National Capital Poison Center notes the following top five causes of poisoning in children and adults:
The top five causes of poisoning in children are:
- Cosmetics/Personal Care Products
- Cleaning Substances
- Foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous
- Topical Preparations
The top five causes of poisoning in adults (20 years and older) are:
- Cardiovascular drugs
- Cleaning substances
What to do if you experience a poisoning emergency:
A poisoned person may not look, act, or feel sick. If you suspect someone has been poisoned, call the Poison Help line immediately at 1-800-222-1222.
The Health Resources and Services Administration provides the following tips if you have a poisoning emergency:
- If poison has been inhaled, get to fresh air right away.
- If the poison has come in contact with the skin, take off any affected clothing and rinse skin with running water for 15-20 minutes.
- If poison has gotten in the eyes, also rinse with running water.
- DO NOT use activated charcoal when you think someone may have been poisoned.
Poisoning Prevention and Preparedness:
As most poisonings happen in the home, here are some helpful tips to keep your family safe from harm due to poison from common household items. For a complete list of tips for poison proofing your home, visit the Health Resources and Services Administration.
- Keep medicines vitamins, and supplements in the containers they came in. Keep them locked up and away from children.
- Tell your doctor about all medicines you are taking and be careful when taking multiple prescriptions. Don’t use two or more products that contain the same drug.
- Never take medicines in the dark
- Never take other people’s prescription drugs
- Poisonous mushrooms called “death caps” often grown in yards and parks
- Berries may attract children, some of which can harm humans even though they do not harm birds and other animals
- Poison center experts will likely not be able to identify poisonous plants over the phone, so talk to an expert at a plant nursery and learn the names of the plants around your home just in case
- Keep all cleaners and other household products in the containers they came in
- Read and follow the directions on the containers and never mix products
- Spray chemicals away from people and pets
- Wear protective clothing when using pesticides or bug spray
- Always wash hands and use clean utensils for cooking and serving
- Store, cook and reheat food at the proper temperatures
- Do not let food sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours
- Signs of food poisoning include fever, headache, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
Let’s take time this week to inspect our homes for potential poisoning hazards and make sure they are properly secured. Spread the word to family and friends about poisoning prevention. Harm due to poisoning can be prevented
REMEMBER: program the poison control number into your cell phones, your children’s cell phones and share with family and friends. You never know when you may need it!
Graphic courtesy of HRSA