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March 1999 - Volume 2 - Issue 3


Health & Safety

March 21-27, 1999
National Poison Prevention Week
"Children Act Fast ... So Do Poisons!"
By Holly Martinac
 

 

About National Poison Prevention Week

The third week of this month is National Poison Prevention Week. Each year thousands of children are accidently poisoned. Many suffer serious injuries and many die from swallowing medicines, polishes, insecticides, drain cleaners, bleaches, household chemicals and garage products.

According to the 1996 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System, about 5 million poisoning exposures occurred in the United States in 1996. It also reports that 91% of all poisonings occurred in the home, and 53% involved children under the age of 6 years. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that each year nearly 900,000 visits to the emergency room occur because of poisoning.

Public Law 87-319, an Act of Congress, was signed into law on September 16, 1961 by President Kennedy. The law authorizes the President to designate annually the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. The Poison Prevention Week Council was organized to coordinate this annual event. The event is intended as a means for local communities to raise awareness of the dangers of accidental poisonings and to take such preventive measures as the dangers warrant. "Children Act Fast ... So Do Poisons!" is the phrased coined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in it's effort to educate the community about the dangers and speed of poison.

Parents must always be watchful when household chemicals or drugs are being used. Many incidents occur when a product is being used and then the parent becomes distracted; for example, by being on the telephone.

 

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

Keep all household chemical products and medicines (especially iron pills and food supplements containing iron) out of sight of youngsters and LOCKED UP when not in use.

Always supervise children who are taking medication and vitamins. Always read and follow directions on labels. NEVER call medicine candy to entice a child to take it. Always be clear that medicine is medicine.

Store all medicines separately from household products, and store all household chemical products away from food.

Keep products in their original containers, with labels in place. For household cleaning supplies such as a diluted bleach solution, CLEARLY mark appropriate cleaning utility spray bottle containers of the exact contents. For example: one part bleach to ten parts water.

Use poison symbols to identify dangerous substances and teach children what they mean.

NEVER use cups or soft drink bottles to hold paint thinner, turpentine, gasoline or other household chemicals. Children associate cups and drink bottles with food or drink.

Dispose of out dated medications and household products properly and in a timely manner. For example: pour contents in the toilet, flush, then rinse container before discarding. For children in foster care, if they are still in placement, you should document what you have done with the out dated medication.

Be aware of young children's growing capacities to explore and experiment. Natural curiosity can lead to poisonings when chemicals or medications are within reach and parents are not paying close attention.

 

State Rules and Regulations

Quality Standards for 24-Hour Facility - 7.714.195 (General Comfort and Safety):

A - All hazardous chemicals, tools, and other equipment, including matches, plastic bags, paints, gasoline, medicines, insecticides, and cleaning and laundry materials, shall be stored out of reach of young children. Products which could cause poisoning or contamination shall not be stored in rooms or areas where food is stored or prepared.

H - The facility shall have a telephone, and emergency numbers shall be posted near the telephone, including those related to medical care, fire, law enforcement, and poison control. Those having legal custody of each child shall be readily available.

Mr. Fred Alderman and other members from Colorado State Licensing have said that medications must be strictly monitored, documented (ie: Presidio's Medication Log), and must also be kept in a LOCKED location. Even refrigerated medications can be placed in a small lock box and kept in the refrigerator.

 

First Aid For Poisoning

Keep the phone number for the poison control center, your doctor and your local hospital near the phone. The phone number for the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center is: 303-739-1123. Please check the inside cover of your phone book to be sure this is the correct number for your community.

Always keep a bottle of Syrup of Ipecac and Epsom Salts in your home. Both can be found in the pharmacy of your grocery store. One makes you vomit and the other may be used as a laxative. They are used sometimes when poisons are swallowed DO NOT USE THEM UNLESS THE POISON CENTER OR YOUR DOCTOR INSTRUCTS YOU TO DO SO, AND FOLLOW THEIR DIRECTIONS FOR USE!

Inhaled Poisons: Carry the patient immediately to fresh air. Call the poison center or your doctor.

Poisons on the skin: Remove the affected clothing and flood the involved parts with luke warm water. Wash with soapy water and rinse. Call the poison center or your doctor.

Swallowed poisons: If the person is awake and can swallow, give ONLY water or milk ONLY to drink. Call the poison center or your doctor. DO NOT give salt, vinegar or lemon juice.

Poisons in the eye: flush with luke warm (never hot) water poured from a pitcher 3 to 4 inches from the eye for 15 minutes. Call the poison center or your doctor.

 

Sources:

Kaiser Permanente "Preventing Childhood Poisonings", Colorado Department of Human Services: Quality Standards for 24-Hour Facilities and various information from the following Internet web sites:

Centers for Disease Control

Consumer Product Safety Commission

The American Red Cross


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