Tips to prevent child poisonings!
Teach your children that medicine is not candy!
It’s National Poison Prevention Week, and I wanted to share some personal stories about how lucky Georgians are to have the Georgia Poison Center operated through Grady Health System. It is a free 24-hour hotline that anyone can call with questions about human or animal poisonings. They can diagnose and treat poisonings over the phone. They also can tell you about drug interactions and if you are nursing, they can advise if medicines you are taking can transfer through your breast milk.
I have personally called the GPC, which is supervised by the Emory University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, on many occasions. I have found them to be a reliable, professional resource that literally saved my son’s life when he was little.
Here are examples of when I called the GPC during nine years of parenting three kids (Please don’t be mean to me for admitting these to you guys!!I am fully aware of my stupidity and no one could make feel worse than I felt at the time.):
- I left a closed bottle of medicine on the counter while I went to get a second dispenser. (Both kids were sick.) When I returned to the bathroom I found a 3-year-old Walsh drinking it like it was Gatorade. (He had opened the not so child-proof container!) I immediately called the GPC and they advised that I had one-hour to get him to the hospital before it entered his blood stream. They called ahead to the ER and the doctors were waiting by the front door of the hospital for us and immediately took Walsh back.
- I was planting flowers in our front yard when Rose was about 2. I turned around to pick up another flower and found Rose eating a small amount of granules of fertilizer. I called the GPC and they said it was fine and she would be OK. I think around that time she also nibbled some dog food, but they said that was OK too. (Clearly she was into things at 2.)
- I was nursing Walsh but had to take a steroid for tendinitis from pushing that ridiculously heavy double stroller. Walsh came down with a fever and Michael was convinced it was my fault because of the steroids. Our lactation consultant and pediatrician had approved it before I started taking the drug, but he was scaring me that the drug was affecting him through my milk. It was well past the doctor’s office hours, but I called the GPC and they assured me I was not doing anything to hurt my baby by taking the steroids. (And Michael shut up about it. The baby was just sick.)
- Multiple calls about acceptable medications for me to take while nursing with all three babies.
- Last year, Lilina got into a cabinet (again, thank goodness the childproof lock worked so well!) and was “cleaning” the bathroom for me. I had no idea if she drank the cleaner so I called GPC to discuss it. He told me the active ingredients in that product wouldn’t hurt her even if she had and to flush her system I think with water (maybe it was milk).
I think that’s all the times I called. Seems like plenty! But thank goodness they were there to take my calls and help me know what to do.
I’m not alone in needing the GPC for advice. In 2009, the GPC answered 115,669 calls. Of these, 83,719 were human poisoning exposures, with more than 50% involving children under age five. The Specialists in Poison Information (SPI) treated 75% of these calls at home via telephone consultation, thereby eliminating unnecessary trips to the emergency room or doctor’s office.
Here are some tips the GPC sent me to share with your guys to help prevent poisonings:
- Store medicines, vitamins, household cleaners, cosmetics, lawn, and automotive products in locked cabinets out of the reach and sight of children.
- Use child resistant packaging and replace the lids tightly.
- Be aware that child resistant does not mean child-proof; some children can open child resistant containers
- Never take prescription medicine that belongs to someone else, even if you have the same symptoms.
- Never refer to medicine as “candy”
- Read labels and follow the directions on all medicine and household product containers
- Do not mix cleaning products
- Teach children never to taste anything without an adult’s permission
- Know the name of all the plants in your home
- Install at least one carbon monoxide detector near the sleeping areas in your home
- Never use an oven or gas stove to heat your home
- Do not go near, tease or play with wild animals or strange dogs and cats
- Do not pick up or move a sick or hurt wild animals
- Keep the phone number to the Georgia Poison Center near all phones in your home, or program the number into your phones
If you suspect a poisoning, have any poison related questions, or need poison prevention materials, call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222