Roger Police Some statistics: Over 50% of all poisonings occur in children less than 5 years old. There are over 2 million reported poisonings in the USA every year. Accidental poisoning account for 10% of all 911 calls and 9% of all hospital emergency room visits. Most child poisonings occur just before meal time, when the child is hungry and under reduced supervision.

The good news about poisoning is that most incidents are avoidable. In other words, although we cannot prevent 100% of all poisonings, good adult or parental care and control of potential poisonous substances can drastically reduce the chances of such an accident in your home.

What might be just after-shave lotion, household cleaning powder, headache pills, or a beautiful Boston ivy plant to you, is poison in the hands of a child. It can kill your child.

Here are the most common poisons swallowed by children:

  1. Poisonous plants
  2. Cleaning supplies
  3. Cold medications
  4. Perfumes
  5. Vitamins
  6. Aspirin

Child-proof your poisons!

Get rid of all but the most essential poisons in your home. Then, follow the following guidelines to minimize the chance of a poisoning in your home:

  • Do not keep medication in you purse or pockets.
  • Never leave medication out after use. Always put it away right after use. If the phone rings or another distraction occurs with the medication still out, put it away first!
  • Keep the light on when taking medication, so you can be more aware of any pills or vials that might fall to the ground without your knowledge.
  • Store all poisons in a locked container and then store the locked container out of reach of your child. One good idea is a padlocked plastic or metal tool chest in which you store all your medication.Poisin sign
  • Never refer to medication as "candy" and do not take your medication with your children watching.
  • Do not keep poisonous plants in the same house as a child. Ask your florist if an attractive plant is poisonous before you buy it.
  • Educate anybody else that cares for your child about the dangers of leaving medication lying around.
  • Never leave medication on bedside tables, dresser-tops or window sills. If your child visits a grandparent, make sure the grandparent is aware of this danger.
  • Don't keep old drugs or medication. Once the expiry date comes and goes, get rid of the old medication.
  • Don't store poisons under the bathroom or kitchen sink.
  • Always thoroughly rinse out old, empty medication containers before throwing them in the garbage.
  • Never store medication or other poisons in food or beverage containers.

If a child shows any signs of poisoning, call your local poison control center immediately (see In An Emergency below). Many countries print these emergency numbers in the phone book.

Symptoms of poisoning

Be aware that a child may not be able to tell you that they ingested poison. They may be too young to talk or, if old enough, fear repercussion. It's always better to be safe so do not hesitate to call you poison control center. You might be able to find the number in the introductory pages of your local phone book. Research this number; even calling the operator if need be. Find out what it is for your community, write it down and stick it in an easy-to-find place near the phone. Time lost fumbling for the number in an emergency could mean the difference between the life or death of your child.

Here are some symptoms of poison ingestion: blistering of the mouth or lips, bad odor from mouth, burning of the mouth, breathing problems, dizziness, confusion or unconsciousness, vomiting or diarrhea, and convulsions.

In An Emergency

Call the poison control centre first!!

Try to be able to tell the center what poison was ingested, if it is obvious, and how much you think was ingested. The center may or may not recommend that you induce vomiting. Some poisons, such as corrosive products, are not treated by inducing vomiting which, in those cases, can cause more harm (eg. furniture polish, gasoline or bleach).

Some final words: get a dose of "IPECAC", a vomiting-inducing drug. If you have this available, and there is a poisoning for which the poison control center advises that you induce vomiting, this is the product you want to have. You'll need a prescription but most doctors will give you a one or two dose supply for just such emergency. Remember that ipecac takes about 15 minutes to take effect and should never be given to a child unless you're told to do so by a doctor or emergency medical workers or the wonderful people that answer the phone lines at your poison control center.

At a hospital, and for the more serious cases, your child's stomach may be pumped. The child may also be given charcoal to eat because charcoal absorbs toxins in the stomach. Never give your child charcoal unless instructed to do so by a medical professional.