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Expert Advice on Averting Child Poisonings

A child dies every 12 days in the United States from accidental medicine poisoning. (Pixabay)
A child dies every 12 days in the United States from accidental medicine poisoning. (Pixabay)
March 20, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – According to the CDC, poisoning is the primary cause of death from injuries in the U.S. March is Poison Prevention Month, and this week, through Saturday, is National Poison Prevention Week.

Accidental medicine poisoning sends a child younger than age six to an emergency room every nine minutes in this country - and every 12 days, a child dies. It is estimated that more than two million poisonings are reported annually to poison control centers in the U.S., and nearly half involve a child under age six.

Earl Siegel, PharmD, is the managing director of the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center. He says the best way to treat a poisoning is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

"For the young children, some pediatricians recommend going through your home - and crawling through your home, from the eyes of your toddler, possibly - and seeing what they might have access to," he says.

He recommends medications be kept out of sight and out of reach, even if they're in child-resistant containers. In addition to medications, Siegel says many household products can be toxic.

"Sources of poisonings might include mother's purse," he adds. "It could include perfumes and cosmetics. It could include visiting grandparents who aren't used to poison-proofing and keeping things up and out of reach of small children."

Poison centers have pharmacists and nurses trained in toxicology on hand to help if there are any suspected poisonings. And Seigel notes it's always better to err on the side of caution.

"Assume the worst, don't be afraid to call, and we can help you evaluate whether there is an issue, whether it's dangerous, whether any kind of first aid needs to be done, whether they need to be seen in a hospital emergency room," he explains.

The number to call the Poison Help Hotline is 800-222-1222, or text 'POISON' to 797979 to save the number in your phone.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH