While anyone can be a victim of poisoning, children are most often at risk. With their curious minds and carefree attitudes, they are more apt to get into something that could fatally harm them. On a daily basis, 300 children in the United States are treated in emergency rooms because they’ve swallowed, inhaled, or touched something poisonous.
Types of poisonous substances
Toxic materials include medications, chemicals, venoms, or gases. Substances in your home, such as common household cleaners, insect repellent, alcohol, and even some kinds of plants, are poisonous. It’s essential to be vigilant about anything in your home that could pose a threat and make sure it’s out of reach of young hands.
Safeguarding your children
If children are old enough, spend time with them and explain how certain substances around the house are off-limits and could make them sick or even worse. Sharing this knowledge often will hopefully make them aware of what materials around the house to stay away from. In addition to educating children, here are some other tips:
- Always lock up medications, cleaning products, and detergents. When you purchase these items, keep them in their child-safety packages and place them where they are out of sight and out of reach.
- Take some time to clean out your medicine chest. You may have prescription drugs, vitamins, and supplements expired, or you don’t take them anymore. You can safely dispose of medications, mix them with kitty litter or even coffee grounds and toss them away. You can learn more about how to dispose of unused medicines here from the Food & Drug Administration.
- Although it’s often challenging to get children to take their medication, never refer to it as “candy.” Medication explicitly prescribed for children can be poisonous if they take more than the recommended dose.
- If you have guests coming to your home, ask them if they have any medications with them and, if so, please put them in a safe place where children cannot find them. Children love to explore handbags, pillboxes, coat pockets, and backpacks.
- Should you take your child to a babysitter’s home, make sure you have a conversation with them about the dangers of poisoning, so you have peace of mind about your child’s well-being, even when you are not with them.
- Identify poisonous plants in your backyard and put them out of reach of children. Common types of toxic plants include poison ivy, poison oak, azaleas, and rhododendron.
- Have the nationwide poison control number handy. Put it on your fridge or have it programmed into your cell phone. If you suspect your child has eaten, drank, or touched something they shouldn’t have but are still alert, it’s best to call 1-800-222-1222 to figure out what to do next. If your child has collapsed or has trouble breathing, take them to the nearest emergency room or contact 911 as soon as possible.
Teens are at risk, too.
Teenagers are another risk group when it comes to using household products to get high. Everyday products found around the house like cough syrup, glue, aerosol sprays, cleaning fluids, bath salts, and hand sanitizers are common products teens can quickly become addicted to. Like anything, if they consume too much of these products, they could become extremely ill or die.
Steps to take when a child is poisoned
- If your child or teen is poisoned, parents need to stay calm. If they are alert and awake, call the national poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Be prepared with the following pieces of information:
- Child or teen’s height/weight
- The bottle or container containing the poisonous substance
- Time of the incident
- Stay on the line with the national helpline and follow their instructions.
Our doors are always open
If the national poison hotline directs you to seek emergency care, Community First ER is ready to help. Think of us as your go-source for pediatric safety information and pediatric emergency care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Our knowledgeable and compassionate staff will take care of your child or teen and take all necessary steps to expel any poisonous substances from their body. We will run any necessary tests and make sure your child is fully recovered or transport them to a hospital using our ambulance or helipad services if required.
We are here to help
At Community First ER, we are committed to providing you the best possible care now and always. We have both adult and pediatric emergency care available. We have a team of medical and surgical specialists that we consult with to help manage our patients and their medical emergencies. We form relationships with local doctors to ensure that our patients have access to the best specialists for their individual needs.
About Community First Emergency Room
Emergency health care, especially in the time of a pandemic, is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust, we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first.