Tips offered for National Poison Prevention Week

March 09, 2006

Each year, approximately 2.4 million people -- more than half under age 6 -- swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that poison prevention and appropriate, immediate treatment to poison contact or ingestion are critical to keeping children safe. During National Poison Prevention Week (March 19-25) the academy offers some important tips for parents and caregivers.

Most poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home but not paying attention. The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil.

The academy suggests storing medicine, cleaners, paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children. Install a safety latch that locks when the parent closes the door on child-accessible cabinets containing harmful products.

Adults should purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. Discard unused medication and never refer to medicine as "candy" or another appealing name.

The academy recommends checking the label each time the parent gives a child medicine to ensure proper dosage. Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers. Keep coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order and maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

If a child is unconscious, not breathing or having convulsions or seizures due to poison contact or ingestion, call 911 or the local emergency number immediately. If a child has come in contact with poison and has mild or no symptoms, call the poison control center at (800) 222-1222.

Different types and methods of poisoning require different, immediate treatment:

-- For swallowed poison: Remove the item from the child, and have the child spit out any remaining substance. Do not make the child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.

-- Skin poison: Remove the child's clothes and rinse the skin with room-temperature water for at least 15 minutes.

-- Eye poison: Flush the child's eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room-temperature water into the inner corner.

-- Poisonous fumes: Take the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If the child has stopped breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until the child breathes on his or her own, or until someone can take over.

For more information, go to the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site at online.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009