While young children are more likely to be victims of poisonings than adults, steps can be taken to prevent poisonings for all ages.
Accidental poisonings are the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC. Of these cases, adults account for 35 percent while children ages 2 and younger make up the highest percentage.
“Everyday household items can be harmful to both children and adults if prevention steps are not taken seriously,” said Brian LaRue, a paramedic with Mon Health EMS.
Poison prevention for children
The easiest way to prevent children from ingesting poisonous items and chemicals is to take away the opportunity for them to get their hands on it.
“You should lock up household cleaners, detergents, medications, batteries or anything that’s intended for motor vehicles like gasoline or wiper fluid so kids can’t access them,” Brian said.
Cosmetics or personal care items should also be kept out of reach of children. Basically, anything that isn’t intended to be ingested should be kept in a safe and secure location.
“Parents and adults should read warning labels carefully and adhere to them,” Brian said. “This will help prevent or reduce the chance of accidental poisonings.”
Poison prevention for adults
One of the most common types of poisoning for adults is caused by people taking medications that are not prescribed to them, according to the CDC. Brian said even if medications are prescribed for you, knowing the side effects is important.
“Adults should always read warning labels for all medications, even over-the-counter medications,” he said. “Never take more than prescribed or more than the dose recommended.”
Carbon monoxide poisoning can also be prevented by installing a detector in each sleeping area of a home. Appliances should also be kept in good condition.
Even with prevention steps, poisonings can happen.
Brian said everyone should have a basic knowledge of what to do when a poisoning occurs. Immediately call poison control at 800-222-2222 for expert assistance or, in severe cases call 9-1-1.
When calling poison control or 9-1-1, have information readily available that can help.
“Gather as much information as possible about the ingested substance, the age of the poisoning victim and the time the poisoning occurred,” Brian said.
This column is provided by Mon Health.