Poisoning is not a danger most of us think about often. However, it affects far more Americans than most people realize, and it costs some people their lives.
March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month. It’s the perfect time to educate yourself about common poisons and to take steps to remove these items from your home or put safeguards in place.
The Mayo Clinic defines poisoning as injury or death due to swallowing, inhaling, touching, or injecting various drugs, chemicals, venoms, or gases. Most poisonings take place in the home.
Smoke inhalation is the most common cause of acute poisoning. Inhalation of smoke along with carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide (released when wools, silks, or nylon fabrics burn) lead to numerous deaths every year.
Dr. Edward Press and Louis Gdalman founded the first poison control center in Chicago in 1953. The movement quickly grew and there were 661 centers by 1978.
Today, there are 55 centers operating in the United States and all are managed by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Poison Prevention Awareness Week was first observed in 1961. Over time, the entire month of March became dedicated to raising awareness of accidental poisoning.
There are steps everyone should take to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning:
-Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Change the batteries twice annually and check their function monthly.
-Keep all medicines, both prescription and over the counter, stored in a cabinet secured with a safety latch.
-Be aware of all medicines in your home and how many pills are in each container.
-Never tell a child that medicine tastes like candy.
-Store all cleaning products and aerosol sprays out of reach.
-Keep cleaning products in original containers. Never use an old food container to store cleaning supplies.
-Never put insecticide or rodent poison on the floor. Don’t use insect sprays on furniture or mattresses.
-Keep laundry and dishwasher supplies out of sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
-Laundry and dishwasher pods are dangerous because they are colorful and can resemble candy. Consider using powder or liquid instead until your child is at least 6 years old.
-Keep all car supplies (antifreeze, windshield washer fluid) out of reach.
-Never leave alcohol or alcoholic drinks within a child’s reach.
-Products containing alcohol, such as mouthwash, food extracts, hand sanitizer and perfume, should be stored out of children’s reach.
-If you live in an older home, have the paint tested for lead.
Even if you take all precautions, your child could still be poisoned. Keep the Poison Control number posted on your refrigerator. Call it if you suspect anyone has ingested or inhaled a poisonous substance.
Poison Control – 800-222-1222 – is available 24/7 every day throughout the year.