Children Act Fast; So Do Poisons
INDIANAPOLIS — Data suggests efforts to reduce the number of children's medicine poisonings are working. However, because kids are curious, vigilance is always needed.
A new report shows fewer children under age six are getting into medicine accidentally, and calls to poison-control centers are down. But every 10 minutes in the U.S. a child is treated at an ER for medicine poisoning.
Deirdre George Davis, coordinator for poison prevention at the Indiana Poison Control Center, explained that even with the most careful parent, poisonings can still happen. She encourages families to evaluate where medications are stored.
"Children act fast, but so do poisons. High shelves aren't necessarily going to prevent poisonings; they're just more of a deterrent,” Davis said. “So, lock them up with a tackle box or just a safety lock. And try to find things with combination locks as opposed to key locks."
Davis said most poison exposures can be managed at home, and urged people to call the center with questions or concerns. In 2017, about 145 calls a day were answered by the Indiana Poison Control Center.
Lead author of the report from Safe Kids Worldwide, Morag MacKay, said about 15 percent of children seen in emergency rooms for a medicine poisoning have to be admitted to the hospital.
"In a few cases, thankfully not too many, it actually is enough to kill a child,” Mackay said. “There are certainly some medications where, if it's prescribed at a dose for an adult and a child takes it, one pill can actually kill."
Davis added that poison is pretty much anything that's used the wrong way, by the wrong person, in the wrong amount. And besides medicine, she said cleaning, automotive and lawn-care products must also be kept out of reach of children and in their original containers to avoid confusion.
"Especially this time of year, when you're gardening and working on cars and that kind of stuff, it would be unfortunate if someone picked up a Gatorade bottle thinking it was something to drink and it was really windshield wiper fluid or anti-freeze, or something of that nature,” Davis said.
To reach poison control, call 800-222-1222. National Poison Prevention Week runs through March 23.