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Tips to avoid accidental poisoning
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AUGUSTA — About 85,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for accidental poisonings each year. In fact, the MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center treated 288 children age 14 and under from Richmond and Columbia counties for some type of poisoning in 2008.
Children are at significantly greater risk than adults for accidental poisoning because they are smaller, have faster metabolic rates and are less able physically to handle toxic chemicals. In addition, natural curiosity and their desire to put everything in their mouths increase their poisoning risk.
So what can parents do to prevent poisonings? Here are some tips:
• Store potentially poisonous household products and medications locked out of children’s sight and reach.
• Read labels to find out what is poisonous. Potential hazards include makeup, medicine, plants, cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies and beer, wine and liquor.
• Never leave potentially poisonous household products unattended while in use.
• Ladies should be aware of poisons that may be inhandbags. Store handbags out of the reach of young children.
• Never mix cleaning products.
• Buy child-resistant packages when available, and keep products in their original packages to avoid confusion.
And when it comes to medicines in particular, follow these guidelines:
• Always read labels, follow directions and give medicines to children based on their weights and ages.
• Only use original dispensers with children’s medications.
• Don’t take medicine or vitamins in front of kids, and don’t call them candy.
• Throw away old medicine by flushing it down a toilet.
• Watch out for guests. Provide visitors a small lock box with a key (available at most home improvement centers) so they can lock their items safely away from children.
• Keep the national poison control center hotline and local emergency numbers near all telephones.
The poison control center hotline is 1-800-222-1222. If you suspect poisoning and a child is choking, collapses, can’t breathe or is having a seizure, call 911. Otherwise, take the product to the phone and call the hotline.
Nearly 90 percent of all poison exposures occur in homes, so make sure friends, family, babysitters and other guests know the steps to preventing poisonings.
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