How to keep your kids safe from poisons
In 2012, the Illinois Poison Center handled almost 74,000 calls treating someone exposed to a poisonous substance. Nearly half of these calls involved children ages 5 and younger.
According to Dr. Mark Mroczko, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group – Eureka, “the natural curiosity of children makes it imperative that adults make every effort to keep potentially hazardous substances out of little hands.”
“Lock up your medicines or keep them up high and safe, where children can’t reach them,” Dr. Mroczko says.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 71,000 children under 18 were seen in emergency departments each year because of medication poisonings. Over 80 percent of these cases are the result of children left alone finding and consuming medications.
According to the CDC, visits to the emergency department for children with accidental medication poisonings are twice as common as poisonings from other household products—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be just as cautious with them.
“Keep all detergents, dish soaps and other liquid chemicals up high as well,” says Dr. Mroczko. “Kids often mistake these types of chemicals for something else, as their colors are quite attractive—light blue or light yellow or red. They want to swallow them because they look good.”
In fact, Dr. Mroczko says that’s often the same reason kids get into medications. “The pills look good or interesting, or look like candy,” he says.
If you think your child has accidentally eaten or drank something poisonous, the most important thing is to assess whether they’re having problems breathing or remaining conscious, Dr. Mroczko says. For these issues, call 911.
“Otherwise, most poisonings can be managed at home,” he says. He recommends calling the Illinois Poison Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1.800.222.1222. The hotline is staffed by specially-trained medical experts who can answer questions and provide recommendations for treatment. The Center resolves 90 percent of poisoning cases over the phone.
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