Prevent poisons in the home
By Maj. Karl E. Ott, 366th Medical Support Squadron
/ Published March 14, 2011
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- National Poison Prevention Week is March 20-26. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare works with the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center to provide poison and drug hotline information.
Each year, the RMPDC receives more than 25,000 calls from Idaho residents and health care professionals for topics on drug and chemical exposure and drug identification.
Parents should avoid keeping highly toxic products such as drain cleaners, hair permanents and relaxers in places that are easily accessible to children. Crawl around your house -- including inside your closets -- to inspect your home from a child's point of view. You'll likely find a poisoning hazard you hadn't noticed before. Also, take note of the following tips:
- When storing medicines, be sure to store all of your medicines and household products in a locked closet or cabinet, including products and medicines with child-resistant containers.
- Remove all nonessential drugs and household products from your home. Discard them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Buy medicines and household products in child-resistant packaging and be sure that caps are always on tight. Do not remove child-safety caps. Avoid keeping medicines, vitamins or household products in anything but their original packaging.
- Never refer to medicine or vitamins as "candy."
- Make sure visiting family and friends or other caregivers keep their medications away from children.
- Avoid products such as cough syrup or mouthwashes that contain alcohol as they are hazardous for young children. Look for alcohol-free alternatives.
- Keep a bottle of syrup of ipecac in your home as it can be used to induce vomiting. Use it only when directed by a poison control center.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, poisonous gas that can cause sickness and death. The gas is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, oil, kerosene, coal and wood. Fuel-burning appliances that are not working properly or are installed incorrectly can produce fatal concentrations of carbon monoxide in your home.
Every year, more than 200 Americans die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel-burning appliances, and several thousand go to emergency departments for treatment for poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented by a few simple tips:
- Install carbon monoxide alarms near bedrooms and on each floor of your home. If your alarm sounds, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that you press the reset button, call 911 or your local fire department and immediately move outdoors or near an open door or window. If you learn that fuel-burning appliances were the most likely cause of the poisoning, have a serviceperson check them for malfunction before turning them back on. Refer to the instructions on your carbon monoxide alarm for more specific information about what to do if your alarm goes off.
- Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu -- headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath -- only without a fever. If you experience any of these symptoms, get fresh air immediately and contact a physician for proper diagnosis. Open windows and doors, turn off combustion appliances, contact emergency services and take the steps listed above to ensure your home's safety.
- Make sure that any fuel-burning equipment, such as a furnace, stove or heater, works properly, and never use charcoal or other grills indoors or in a garage. Do not leave your car's engine running while it's in the garage and consider putting weather stripping around the door between your garage and house.
Make sure to post the telephone number for your poison control center near your phone, in a place that's easy to find by all family members in case of an emergency. The Idaho PCC number is 1-800-222-1222.