Preventing and Treatment of Poisoning

The arrival of a child is the beginning of a host of concerns for parents: immunizations, childhood illnesses, risk of accidents, and potential poisonings. An important issue is childproofing the home to prevent accidental electrical shocks, falls, and poisonings. Poison Hotline: 800-222-1222 How can I prevent poisoning? There are several common sense rules for the household that will help prevent poisonings.

  • Always keep any potential poison out of sight and reach of children. Keep all hazardous substances stored away from food and medicines. Place childproof locks on all areas where household chemicals and medications are stored.
  • Never remove a substance from its original container and place it in another container (eg, placing bleach in a soft drink bottle).
  • If you are in the middle of a chore with a household chemical and you are interrupted by the doorbell or a phone call, close all containers before answering. if you must, take the child with you when you leave the area where the chemical is located.
  • After using any medication or consumer product, immediately reengage the child-resistant closures.
  • Do not take medication in front of children, as they may imitate adult behaviors.
  • Never refer to medicine as candy in an attempt to gain the child’s cooperation.
  • Never give a child medicine in the dark or from an unlabeled container.
  • If the medication came with a dropper, use only that dropper to administer it. Different droppers measure different amounts and may be labeled for use of another medication.
  • When medications and chemicals (eg, household cleaners) are no longer needed, dispose of them carefully where they cannot be obtained by children playing in dumpsters or by adults recycling items. Cleaners and solvents can be taken to an accepted disposal facility; medications should be flushed, ground in a garbage disposal or burned thoroughly.

What should I do after a poisoning?

In the past, authorities recommended giving syrup of ipecac to make the child vomit the poison. Because studies have not shown that ipecac improves outcomes in cases of poisoning, and because people with eating disorders may take ipecac to induce vomiting, this is no longer considered a good idea. If you have ipecac in your house, you should pour it down the drain. Your best weapon in a poisoning episode is the National Poison Control Hotline. Immediately after a poison ingestion, call the toll-free poison hotline at (800) 222-1222. Keep this number close to each telephone in the house. Calling this number will connect you to your state’s poison control center. Trained professionals can give you the best advice for what to do next. When you call, be prepared to give the following information:

  • The age and weight of the child and any health conditions he or she may have, such as asthma.
  • Whether the child is having any health problems (eg, sleeping, vomiting).
  • The name of the substance the child ingested, its strength, and how much could have been taken (for instance, if you find a child with a bottle of 100 aspirin tablets and the bottle has 50 tablets remaining, it is better for the child’s safety to estimate that possibly 50 tablets were eaten).