Millions of children are exposed to poisons every year. It's up to us as parents and grandparents to protect these little ones from becoming yet another statistic.
Here are some tips on preventing poisonings from happening at home:
- Read and follow instructions on drug labels! Do not share prescribed medications with others. Don't mix medications unless your doctor instructs you to do so. If someone in your family has an adverse reaction to a drug, seek medical help immediately.
- This should go without saying, but keep all medications and vitamins out of your children's reach. Seriously. Keep them in child-resistant bottles and, if possible, in a locked cabinet. Make sure you keep your purse out of reach if you carry meds with you.
- Post the phone number the poison control center in a place everyone can see it. 1-800-222-1222
- Talk to your kids about the importance of not touching certain products in your home. Green, non-toxic products naturally make your home a safer place, but warn them about the following: pesticides, furniture polish, mouthwash, weed killers (none of you would ever use Roundup, right??), paint remover, moth balls (again, you certainly don't have any of those in your house, do you?), fertilizer, cleaning liquids and powders, antifreeze, detergents -- yes, including Tide Pods -- gasoline, drain cleaners, hair products, and cosmetics.
- Keep certain plants out of your yard. Holly, rhododendrons, and geraniums are poisonous if consumed.
If, God forbid, someone has been poisoned, it's important that you remain calm. Call the poison control hotline right away. 1-800-222-1222. They will ask for the name and age of the patient, your name and phone number, the name of the product and its ingredients, the amount of poison involved, the time this happened, and the victim's symptoms.
If they tell you to go the hospital, head out the door as quickly as possible and take the original container that housed the poison.
If the victim swallowed poison, do not give them anything by mouth until you call for advice.
If the poison was inhaled, immediately move the person into fresh air. Avoid breathing fumes. Open all doors and windows. If the victim is not breathing, start artificial respiration.
Poison in the eye requires a lukewarm (not hot) flushing of the eye poured out from a large glass 2 to 3 inches from the eye. Do this every 15 minutes and instruct the patient to blink as much as possible during the flushing. Note: do not force the eyelid open!
When skin has been exposed to a toxic substance, remove all contaminated clothing and flood the skin with water for 10 minutes. Follow with mild soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
Always keep a 1 oz. bottle of syrup of ipecac on hand in case you are instructed to use it by the poison control center or physician.
There are a lot of memes and jokes circulating about the whole Tide Pod Challenge -- teens and young adults purposefully poisoning themselves. But the fact is: it's not funny. The real challenge is keeping our families safe. It just takes some extra effort.