The Washington Poison Center reported 54,390 instances of human poisoning in 2013. About 51% of these were children under the age of six. The number one reason the Poison Center was called in 2013 was for accidental exposure. In Thurston County, over 100 hospitalizations happen every year from accidental poisonings.
It is true that accidents happen. But what can we do to prevent them? Here are some tips!
1) Even products that are not considered “hazardous” or “toxic” can be poisonous if ingested. Cosmetics and personal care products (shampoo, lotion, soap, etc) are the number one source of exposures for children under age six.
2) Talk to your kids about the dangers of eating, drinking things that are not food or not food for kids. And about the danger of touching items that can hurt them. The Poison Center suggests teaching small children to ask before eating, drinking, or touching things.
3) Keep toxic or potentially toxic items locked and out of reach. Remember that this should include household cleaners, auto products, yard and garden products, as well as cosmetics and personal care products. Kids are great climbers. Make sure your bathroom is kid-safe by keeping items put away, completely out of child’s reach, including their ability to climb up on the counter. A locking container or cupboard can prevent poisoning.
4) Children learn by imitation. Try not to take medication in front of them. Avoid bringing unnecessary poisons into the home. Read labels, directions, and check ingredients with your kids. Refrain from calling medication by any other name, even if it is a joke (such as “happy pills”).
5) Pay special attention to children when you use hazardous products. Many poisonings happen while the product is in use. Think about where you set a product down as you clean. Keep the product close to you and in your line of sight at all times while in use. If you step away to answer the phone or door, take the product with you.
6) Avoid bringing hazardous products in your home. Use green cleaning methods, natural yard care, and use the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to find less toxic personal care products. If you need to use a hazardous product, only purchase the amount you need for the specific task. More stored hazards provide more opportunities for danger.
7) Dispose of hazardous products and medications safely. Take any unwanted and unused hazardous materials and medications to HazoHouse at the Thurston County Waste & Recovery Center. You can also take unwanted medication to a medicine return drop box, see Take Back Your Meds for locations.
8) Have the toll-free Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) readily available. Program it into your home and cell phones. You should also post it near your phone or on your refrigerator for the babysitter. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s nice to have just in case.
Find more useful tips at www.safekids.org/poisonsafety.