Children act fast, but so do poisons

Most poisoning emergencies are unexpected and happen quickly in our homes. A majority of non-fatal poisonings involve children younger than six. And for adults, poisoning is the No. 1 cause of injury death in the United States. This week is National Poison Prevention Week, so it’s a good time to think about what you would do in a poisoning emergency.

Are young children most at risk for a poisoning accident?

In 2016, poisoning was the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among all Idahoans, with children younger than 6 being most at risk. It is extremely important for parents of small children to keep medications, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, cosmetics and other potentially poisonous items out of their reach. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center, which receives all of Idaho’s poison emergency calls, had more than 13,000 calls in 2016 from Idaho residents. And the majority of those calls were from parents of children ages 6 and younger. 

What are the most dangerous poisons for children?

The leading causes of poisoning for Idaho children are things we commonly have in our homes and include aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen; cosmetics and personal care products; household cleaning and automotive products; and even diaper cream.

What are some things we can do to protect our children?

The first thing you should do is add the poison control number to your contact list in your cell phone and post it near your phone at home. That number is 1-800-222-1222 (that’s 1-800-222-1222). You can also order poison prevention materials with the number on them from the Idaho CareLine, which you can reach by dialing 2-1-1. Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they are staffed with health professionals who have had special training in poison management.

What else can be done in the home?

Store all of your medications, laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies in cabinets that children can’t open. Refer to medication as medicine rather than candy if you have to take it in front of your children. If they think you are eating candy, they might try to eat some, too. Another thing to keep in mind is that there may be poisonous plants in your house or yard that are dangerous if they are eaten. They should be moved to where curious children can’t get to them.

What should we do if we think we have a poisoning incident?

Call 911 immediately if a person has collapsed or stopped breathing. If the person is awake and alert, then call the poison control number. When you call, try to have the person’s age and weight, the container of whatever it is the person ate or drank, when they consumed it, and the address of your location. Then stay on the phone and follow instructions.

Anything else?

Other household poisons are difficult to detect and include lead, radon and carbon monoxide. There are lots of resources and fact sheets for those as well as poisoning information on our website at

(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of the segment from March 21. Join us next week, when we’ll be talking about salmonella and poultry.)

Other resources:

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