How to prevent accidental poisonings

It’s natural for children to explore their surroundings — unless they’re getting under the kitchen sink or into the medicine cabinet where hazardous chemicals and medicines are kept.  Duruing National Poison Prevention Week (March 17-23), the Poison Control Center and Safe Kids Kansas remind parents to make sure they store poisonous materials — such as medication — out of their children’s reach. 

More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the nation’s poison centers.  In Kansas alone, the Poison Control Center received more than 30,000 calls in 2012. Approximately three out of every four those calls were for a child under the age of five.  The majority of child poison exposures are from medication. 

National Poison Prevention Week highlights the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. Child-resistant packaging is credited with saving hundreds of children’s lives since its introduction in the 1970s. Still, there is no substitute for active supervision and childproofing. “If a product label says ‘keep out of reach of children,’ there’s a reason,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “Keep it locked up, out of reach, and out of sight.” 

Accidental poisoningSafe Kids Kansas encourages parents and caregivers to keep the poison center’s toll-free hotline number, 800-222-1222, near each phone in the home and program the number into every cell phone.  This number connects you to your local poison control center from anywhere in the United States, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.  “When seconds count, poison expertise is what you need,” said Daling McMoran with the Poison Control Center.  “Call the poison control center the moment you suspect there has been an exposure.  It could save a life.” 

If a child is choking, having trouble breathing or having a seizure, call 911 instead. Follow the 911 operator’s instructions. Do not induce vomiting or give the child any fluid or medication unless directed. 

Safe Kids Kansas and the Poison Control Center offer these additional tips:

  • Always store medicines and vitamins up and away in a locked location, and out of sight of children.
  • Never give adult medications to children.
  • Never call medication candy or tell children it tastes like candy.
  • Always use the dosing device packaged with the medications. Never use a household utensil, such as a teaspoon or tablespoon, to measure medication.
  • Remind grandparents, babysitters, and visitors to keep purses and bags that contain medicine up and away when they visit your home. 
  • Parents and grandparents should be mindful of weekly pill-minders. While convenient for keeping track of dosages of medications, they are also easy for kids to open. If you use these, keep them out of sight and reach of children.

About Maria Loving

I am the coordinator of the Women's Connection's blog and have worked for Via Christi Health for 11 years. I'm also the mother of two boys, ages 11 & 13.
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