Congratulations to the Poison Prevention Week Council, marking  their 50th anniversary this year !  An act of Congress was signed into law on September 16, 1961, by President John Kennedy, after which the Poison Prevention Week Council was organized to coordinate this annual event.  Congress designated this event as a means for local communities to raise awareness of the dangers of unintentional poisonings and to take such preventive measures as the dangers warrant. 

There are two basic themes – “Children Act Fast ….So Do Poisons!”  and “Poisoning Spans a Lifetime.”  It is up to parents to watch when household chemicals or drugs are in the home.  An adult may be distracted by the phone or doorbell; but parents know that small children act fast, so they should make sure that all medicines and household chemicals are stored away from children at all times.  In addition to knowing most emergency numbers, the Poison Control Center is 1-800-222-1222.  Keep this number near your phone, and have the following information ready:

  • Age and weight of the victim.
  • Existing health conditions and/or problems.
  • Substance involved and how it contacted the person.  Was it swallowed, inhaled, absorbed through skin contact, or splashed into the eyes? How long ago did they swallow or inhale the substance?
  • Any first aid you may have given.
  • If the person has vomited.
  • Your location, and how long it will take you to get to a hospital.

If medicine has been swallowed, do not give anything by mouth until advised by your poison control center.  If chemicals or household products have been swallowed, call the poison control center or follow the first aid instructions on the label. 

Medications:  Child-Resistant Packaging 

Labeling requirements and educational programs have had some effect in reducing the number of childhood ingestions; however,  some children are still being poisoned by ingesting hazardous household products.  Although child-resistant packaging does provide an additional barrier, children may try to figure out different ways of opening the container.  If  their fingers don’t work, their teeth might.  

The Poison Prevention Packaging Act requires that packages be difficult for children under 5 years of age to open.  (I’ve found some pretty hard to open, too)!  Here are good instructions that make it easier for us adults to open the packaging, as well as other safety tips:

  1. Read the instructions to make it easier to open the packaging.  (If you need reading glasses, keep a pair handy by your medicine cabinet).
  2. If using cap and vial packages, be sure to resecure the closure tightly.  Blister cards never have to be resecured; however, don’t transfer the contents to other containers.
  3. Do not leave loose pills anywhere.
  4. Keep medicines and household products (even those with safety caps) locked up and out of sight.
  5. Use locks or child-resistant latches to secure storage areas.
  6. It’s wise for adults to ask for their medicines in child-resistant vials because poisonings have happened when youngsters have visited homes where no children live.  Little ones have been poisoned after finding medicine containers left in purses or on bedside tables. 
  7. Avoid taking medicine in front of children.  Always refer to medicine as “medicine,” and not “candy.” 

Even though most medicines are packaged in tamper-evident packaging, they are not tamper-proof.  Each consumer must be alert for the packaging to be protective.  You should always read the label and inspect the outer packaging.  If anything about the product looks suspicious, you should be suspicious.  If there are tablets or capsules that differ in any way, don’t take them.  Never take medicine in the dark.  Read the label and look at the medicine every time you take a dose.  If you suspect something wrong with a medicine or packaging, take it to the store manager. 

If you think someone has been poisoned from a medicine or household chemical, call 1-800-222-1222 for your Poison Control Center.  This national toll-free number works from anyplace in the United States (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).  Keep the number on your phone.  It will connect you to a poison control center.  There are currently 61 Poison Centers across the country that maintain information for the doctor or the public on recommended treatment for the ingestion of household products and medicines.  They are familiar with the toxicity (how poisonous it is) of most substances found in the home, or know how to find this information.   We hope this never happens to you or your family or friends, but it is vital information to have.

Source: Poison Prevention Control.org