Most poisoning emergencies are unexpected and happen quickly in our homes. A majority of non-fatal poisonings involve children younger than 6. 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 2017, poisoning was the second-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 potentially poisonous items out of their reach. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center, which receives all of Idaho’s poison emergency calls, had more than 14,000 calls in 2018 from Idaho residents. Most 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 household cleaning supplies; cosmetics and personal care products; aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen; vitamins/supplements; and toys and other foreign objects children can swallow. In 2018, the poison center received 833 calls related to children younger than 6 and household cleaning supplies, with liquid dishwasher detergents at the top of the list. The center received 751 calls for cosmetic/personal care product exposure.
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 or post it near your phone at home. That number is 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. The poison center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is 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. Teach your children to take medicine only with permission and guidance from a parent or trusted adult. Also, there may poisonous plants in your house or yard that are dangerous if they are eaten. Remove them or move them to a place 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, how long ago they consumed it, and your location. Then stay on the phone and follow instructions.
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 www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.
- Download a checklist for parents: http://www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Portals/0/Health/Childrens%20Special%20Health/Poison%20Control_Parent%20Home%20Safety%20Checklist.pdf
- CDC Poisoning Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/poisoning/index.html
(A Closer Look airs most Tuesdays at 6:50 a.m. on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of the segment from March 19.)