Emily Jewkes, health educator, Bear River Health Department
MORE THAN 2 MILLION poisonings are reported each year to the 61 Poison Centers across the United States. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), approximately 90% of poisonings happen at home, and over 50% of poisoning exposure involves children under 6.
The AAPCC says, “almost anything can be poisonous … if it is used the wrong way, in the wrong amount, or by the wrong person.” Here are a few tips to help prevent poisoning:
1. Use products with child-resistant caps. Remember that child-resistant is not childproof. Given enough time, children can open most containers.
2. Most accidents occur while products are in use. Keep items in your hands or in a safe storage place.
3. Keep products in original containers. Children will drink from familiar containers — like sports drink bottles — even if they do not know what is in them.
4. Do not allow children to play with medicine containers.
5. Do not take medicine in front of children.
6. Be aware of the medicines used by family and friends. They may need help planning safe storage.
Be vigilant. Many children who are poisoned have been taught to avoid dangerous substances. Children are also capable of climbing and reaching
As you begin spring cleaning and working in the yard, follow these simple tips to keep your family safe:
Household Cleaners and Other Chemical Products
• Keep poisons in the containers they came in. Don’t use food containers to store household cleaners and other strong chemicals, and store strong chemicals away from food to avoid mistaking one product for another.
• Read and follow the directions for products use. Do this BEFORE using the products. Follow the advice carefully.
• Never mix chemicals. Doing so can create a poisonous gas.
• Turn on fans and open windows when using strong chemicals.
• When spraying chemicals, direct spray nozzle away from people and pets.
• Never sniff containers to determine what’s inside.
• Discard old or outdated products. First-aid advice on containers may be incorrect and
• Call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222) to double-check first-aid information.
• Even in small amounts, windshield wiper fluid is poisonous. If swallowed, it can
cause blindness or death to people and pets.
• Strong chemicals such as drain openers, toilet cleaners, rust removers, and oven cleaners can cause burns.
• Hydrocarbon liquids (liquids made from petroleum) are poisonous. They include gasoline, kerosene, charcoal lighter fluid, paint thinner, baby oil, lamp oil, and furniture polish.
• If hydrocarbons are swallowed, they can easily get into the lungs. Even a small amount can cause breathing problems. The liquid coats the inside of the lungs and prevents oxygen from entering the bloodstream.
• Pesticides (pest killers) can be taken in through the skin or inhaled. Even leather shoes and gloves do not offer full protection. Pesticides can be extremely poisonous. Stay away from areas that have been sprayed until the spray has dried, or for at least one hour.
• Wear protective clothing when using bug spray or other spray products. Put on a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, shoes, and gloves. Remove and wash clothing after using chemicals.
• If pesticides are splashed onto skin, rinse with water for 15–20 minutes. If pesticide contacts clothing, take off the clothing before rinsing skin.
• Many garden chemicals are poisonous. These chemicals can be harmful if swallowed or inhaled.
• Only experts can tell poisonous mushrooms from safe mushrooms.
• Poisonous mushrooms, called “death caps,” often grow in yards and parks.
• Eating even a few bites of certain mushrooms can cause liver damage that can kill you.
When accidents happen, call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222. Program this number into your phone, keep a magnet on your fridge, and/or list the number somewhere that is easy to find. Get help right away from a nurse, pharmacist, or another poison expert. If someone has trouble breathing, call 911 right away. Visit poisonHelp.HRSA.gov for more tips.