When you think of poisons, the first things that come to mind may be hemlock, antifreeze and pesticides. But there are many more products lurking in your bathroom cabinet, hiding under your kitchen sink, or lying in wait on your garage shelf that can cause harm if used improperly, by the wrong person, or in the incorrect amount. Seemingly innocuous items such as shoe polish, mouthwash, makeup or carpet cleaners can be poisonous when swallowed, inhaled, or enter the body through the eyes, ears or skin.
To help raise awareness and prevent accidental poisonings, Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake will recognize March 18 to 24 as National Poison Prevention Week. Each year more than 2 million poisonings are reported to the 57 poison control centers nationwide. In excess of 90 percent of these poisonings happen in the home and the majority of non-fatal poisonings involve children under six years of age.
“Poisons can come in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes and forms,” says Aruna Koney, M.D., family practice physician on the medical staff at Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake. “It is especially important for parents to keep poisonous products out of the reach of children. This includes cleaning products like detergent or floor cleaners, personal care products such as deodorant or soap, and all medications.”
Dr. Koney offers some additional tips to help prevent accidental poisonings:
• Because “childproof” medicine bottles are really just child resistant, keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
• Keep all products in original containers.
• Store bottles of alcohol in a locked cabinet
• Keep children away from poisonous house plants or buy nonpoisonous ones.
• Be aware of other hazards in the home, including poisoning from carbon monoxide, which can cause headaches, fatigue or dizziness, and lead based paint, which affects motor control, memory and concentration.
• Do not refer to medicines or vitamins as “candy” or other names that appeal to children.
• Always store food and cleaners in separate cabinets or rooms.
“If a person has swallowed something poisonous, do not give ipecac syrup, or anything to eat or drink,” advises Dr. Koney. “For inhaled poison, get to fresh air. Skin exposed to poison should be rinsed thoroughly with water for 10 minutes and contaminated clothing removed. Poisons in the eye should be flushed with lukewarm water for 15 minutes, but do not try to pry the eye open.”
For more information about poisons, visit Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake’s website at www.DoctorsHospitalDallas.com/Poisons.