March 18-24 is National Poison Prevention Week. Take this time to familiarize yourself with basic poison prevention and what to do if you think your child has been exposed to something dangerous. Before you do anything else, consider programming the Poison Help phone number into your telephone or in a very prominent place. The 24-hour Poison Help Hotline is 1-800-222-1222.
Proof Your Home
Regardless of your child’s age, it’s important to poison proof your home. Most parents consider the obvious sources of accidental poisoning, such as medication and household cleaners. But it’s also important to be aware of potential toxins such as poisonous plants, uncooked food and craft supplies. PoisonPrevention.org warns not to store chemicals in unmarked containers, especially food containers. Make yourself aware of any poisonous insects and animals that are common in your area. According to Poison Help, kids less than six are the most likely to be poisoned.
Educate Your Kids
From late toddler stages on up, it’s important to talk to your kids about hazards in the home. In addition to making sure that kids know not to play with dangerous cleaning, yard and household chemicals, talk to kids about poison first aid. Make sure kids know to talk to an adult. The last thing you want is for a child to hide accidental poisoning from you out of fear of being in trouble.
Educate Your Family
Poisoning can occur many ways. Talk to adults and caregivers in your family about poison. Be aware of cleaning vapors in the air, dispose of and store medication properly, and make sure that only competent adults dispense medication to kids. Keep doses clearly labeled and never give a child someone else’s medication or the wrong dose. When you’re traveling, make sure your lodgings are poison safe and if you stay with family, talk to them about keeping medication and poisons out of the reach of children.
Call Poison Help as soon as you think your child may have been exposed to something poisonous. Remember, poisoning can occur through ingestion, in the eyes, on the skin and by inhalation. In many cases, parents are simply told to be watchful. But this call can be life saving. Poison Help has access to information that can quickly let you know how to respond to an accidental poisoning.
If a family member is exposed to an unknown substance or poison, be sure to call the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 immediately. If they determine that your family member should receive immediate medical attention, bring them to North Hills Hospital or the ER at Alliance. We are here to help administer emergency care any time of day or night. For a physician referral, please call 1-855-5NHILLS.