Poisons Around the Home

poison jarChemicals in and around the house can cause harm and even death to people and pets.  Poison control centers across the country report more than 2 million calls a year about potential exposure to poisons.  80% of all poisonings are in children between the ages of 1 and 4.  Although accidents do happen, the majority of exposure to poisons can be prevented.  Typical poison sources are from household chemicals, cosmetic and personal care products, drugs and medications, carbon monoxide, and lead paint.  Follow these safety tips to help prevent poisonings:

  • Install safety locks/childproof latches on all cabinets.
  • Use and store potential poisons in accordance with the label instructions. Keep pesticides, detergents, personal care products and medications out of children’s reach. This includes inside the home and storage areas in garages and sheds. Do not underestimate your child’s ability to climb and reach potential poisons.
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles. Turn on lights when you take or give medicines to ensure you have the right medicine and dose.
  • The fumes from cleaning products, pesticides, etc. should be avoided and only used in well ventilated areas. Never mix products and chemicals. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
  • Store chemicals in their original container. Do not transfer chemicals to unmarked containers.
  • Poisons should be immediately returned to their locked storage locations after use.
  • Keep indoor plants out of reach of children as some may be poisonous.
  • All houses built before 1978 may contain lead based paint. When ingested, peeling paint and paint dust can lead to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause permanent damage to the bones, organs and central nervous system. Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning which can cause learning and behavior disabilities, even in low levels of lead. If your home is built prior to 1978, you should consider contacting your local health department about testing your home for lead. Make sure children do not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead based paint.
  • Water heaters, furnaces and running cars are a potential source of harmful gases. Never leave a running car in a garage. Water heaters and furnaces should be inspected and serviced by a professional once a year to ensure they are properly vented. Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home to alert you if the carbon monoxide levels are elevated.

If you observe any of the following, call 911 immediately: difficulty breathing, difficulty speaking, dizziness, unconsciousness or foaming/burning of the mouth.

Poison prevention mostly involves common sense precautions and actions. Do not underestimate the dangers of household chemicals, pesticides, medicines, etc. All family members should be trained and instructed on poison prevention to ensure a happy and healthy home.

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