Fall brings about many changes – crisp cool air, new school schedules and holiday visits. These are just a few of the things that change the family routine and – believe it or not – increase the risk of accidental poisonings! Here are a few hints to help protect your family from harm this season.
Cough and Colds Medicines – a Major Culprit!
Medications are most prevalent in homes during the cough, cold and flu season. Since both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications contain enough active ingredients to be very harmful to children (and adults) if misused, care should always be taken when handling and storing any medication. Poisoning symptoms can include agitation, lethargy, affected blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm – or worse!
Protect children who might be tempted by sweet flavored syrups and colorful candy-like pills by securing medications out of reach at all times – even at night – and remind houseguests to do the same. Always adhere to dosage directions and avoid combining products with the same ingredients, such as Acetaminophen. And remember it’s always best to check with a pharmacist before combining any drug – whether prescription or over-the-counter.
Thermometers Go Hi-Tech!
Surprise! The US Poison Control Centers do not consider the mercury in a glass thermometer a poisoning risk. Still, glass thermometers pose safety hazards including cuts and possible ingestion of glass. Why worry? Today’s digital thermometers are very accurate and much safer than glass – ask your pediatrician to recommend one. But don’t discard either broken or whole glass thermometers in the trash – mercury is considered an environmental hazard. Contact your local waste management offices for hazardous material disposal information.
Car Care Products – a Danger!
Automotive winterizing and antifreeze products can cause severe reactions and illness if swallowed, even in small amounts. These products often are randomly stored in the garage, and to make matters worse, they are sweet to the taste. Protect kids – and pets – by keeping all antifreeze products secured well out of reach, quickly cleaning any spills or leaks, and by rinsing used bottles and replacing safety caps before disposal.
De-Icers and Sidewalk Salt
Sidewalk salt and other de-icers are dangerous to children if ingested. Make sure these items are safely stored and that children do not eat the snow surrounding sidewalks and driveways.
Have fireplaces and furnaces professionally inspected prior to lighting to help prevent both fires and carbon monoxide poisoning – and replace batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Remember that space heaters are known causes for carbon monoxide poisoning and house fires, never leave these unattended or operating overnight. A little precaution will help your family avoid poisoning hazards this season.
If poisoning is suspected contact Poison Control immediately… and be sure to have the 24-Hour Poison Control Hotline number posted by all phones: 1-800-222-1222