Tips to prevent child poisonings!

Teach your children that medicine is not candy!

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.):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.)
  4. Multiple calls about acceptable medications for me to take while nursing with all three babies.
  5. 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

166 comments Add your comment

DFACS

March 18th, 2010
7:21 am

We are having a case investigator contact you later today.

MomOf2Girls

March 18th, 2010
7:53 am

Fortunately, my kids have not been the “eat / drink anything and everything” type. My older one was on a G-Tube until 4, and the younger one, not sure why. The only time I called Poison Control was as a precaution before anything happened. Our house gets a ladybug infestation every year, and although they don’t bother me, I was concerned about future (at the time) little ones popping them in their mouths. I called to ask them about it, and was told there’s not a problem.

Even though I’ve never had a scare like yours, I’m grateful that this service is available.

Wayne

March 18th, 2010
8:02 am

The state I live in (Mass) has a poison control center as well. It’s nice to know it’s available. We keep the number on the main phone in the house – we got a sticker from some event we went to a while back.

We’ve called it for a couple minor things and they’ve always been very professional, and most importantly, have a calming attitude while they are explaining why (or why not) you should/shouldn’t be worried.

cld

March 18th, 2010
8:23 am

Thanks for the reminder! I am programming the phone number today . . .

A few months ago (DS was probably about 18 months old), I had a bottle of adult Motrin in my purse. We were at my sister’s house and my son started unloading the contents of my purse. In no time at all, the bottle of Motrin was out and open. I think I cleared the coffee table and loveseat without touching the floor, jumping to him. He was just putting the first pill in his mouth when I got to him, and pulled it out. I couldn’t believe how quickly it happened – and with five adults in the room with him! Luckily that was just a close call . . . but we still have a lot of road to cover.

Jeff

March 18th, 2010
8:29 am

So it takes an hour for the poison to enter the blood stream. Good info for my plans for the ex. Did I just say that out loud?

TechMom

March 18th, 2010
8:39 am

Never had any incidents with the boy that required a call. I think I did look up online once when our friends’ toddler decided to eat about 6-8 Tums thinking they were candy. He got his calcium intake for the day (week even) and had a bit of diarrhea the rest of the day.

I did just click on the link and found one of the headlines a little interesting, “GPC no longer recommends Syrup of Ipecac for Home Use”. I can remember every well-child visit the pediatrician’s nurse asking us if we had Ipecac syrup at home. It doesn’t say why they no longer recommend it though I’m guessing it’s because most poisonings should not be addressed by force vommitting.

Tiffany

March 18th, 2010
8:57 am

Thanks, Theresa…this is some really important information here. I think we have ALL been here at least once- with a problem similar to yours. I know I can totally relate to being scared senseless about some crazy thing one of the kids has done, eaten, ect. I also have a kid who was NEVER stopped by any of the so-called child proof items. I learned very early that there’s nothing better than a really high cabinet to keep those items out of reach. Even now that my kids are old enough to know better…the items- medicines, cleaning chemicals, ect. are still up high, because you never know when a small child might be visiting. We also have pets and it’s just better to be safe than sorry. Also-keep that poison control number handy just in case!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 18th, 2010
9:02 am

Just added the number to my cell phone too — which never even occurred to me — thanks CLD! — Tech Mom — the Ipecac went out a long time ago — at least four years. We always had it in the kitchen in our old house just in case but I removed it before we moved so it must have been at least four years ago they stopped advising it. they used charcoal on Walshie to absorb the medicine before it could enter his system from the stomach. I wrote about that before when I praised Emory Eastside for doing such a great job taking care of him.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 18th, 2010
9:03 am

Tiffany — thanks for not judging me!!!!!!

Michelle

March 18th, 2010
9:07 am

Well, we had to call once too…don’t feel so bad. My step-sons were on meds for ADHD when they were younger. They were staying at our house one week and didn’t put their medicine back in the cabinet. The little guy (I think he was 2-3 at the time) started eating them! I think they were Ritalin, Risperdal, and Concerta! We had to take him to the ER and they gave him the charcoal to drink. Thankfully, he was thirsty and drank it (otherwise, they put a tube through your nose to the stomach and pour it in!) We had to stay there for a few hours for observation. We think he might have actually ingested the Risperdal because he was very lethargic (which is NOT his normal). We were very lucky that day.

Everyone should have the number for poison control written/stored in an easily accessible (and remembered) place! You never know when you might need it!

TechMom-many times vomiting will cause even more problems. For example, any swallowed item that is caustic/acidic (drano, bleach, toilet bowl cleaner, etc) you would not want to induce vomiting. It has already burned on the way day, you want to keep it there to be neutralized, not have it burn on the way back up too!

Lori

March 18th, 2010
9:14 am

Good number to have around when you have curious puppies too!! I have one that will pick up and eat absolutely anything, and a 6 year old boy who can’t remember to close cabinet, pantry, and bedroom doors!!! Tip, keep your chocolate baking supplies on a shelf that your dog can’t reach standing on their hind legs!!! Candy bars aren’t all that bad, but baking chocolate, especially the unsweetened kind is deadly.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 18th, 2010
9:25 am

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 18th, 2010
9:26 am

Lori — I didn’t know that about the baking chocolate — I keep all my supplies for baking in a low cabinet – can’t hurt the kids — but the dog!!!! hmmmm maybe have to move the bakers chocolate up –

lulu

March 18th, 2010
9:31 am

222-1222!!!! (right? i always second-guess myself. maybe i should follow my own advice!)

*everyone* needs to memorize that number, put it in their phone, whatever. you never know when you might need it! i think poison is downplayed a lot, but the most innocuous things can be poisonous for a small child. thankfully, the poison control folks are super nice and helpful … i’ve called them twice — in the same weekend. never before or since, but it was absolutely my worst weekend as a parent!

motherjanegoose

March 18th, 2010
9:33 am

Wow…you have had your share if hair raisers T. Here are mine:

My son stuffed his mouth full of rolly pollies while I was planting Gerber Daisies around our front yard tree, in Texas. He thought they were candy. When I noticed him, I screamed my head off and one of our neighbors (a Doctor) was out and came over. No biggie but it was gross.

My daughter pulled a piece of a plant ( diffenbachia) and put that in her mouth. I did call poison control then.

When we still owned our house in Texas, our tenants had a dog that got into a one pound brick of Folger’s coffee. He was runnng around the yard likea maniac from the caffeine. They found the coffee and took him in to have his stomach pumped. Yes, pets do get into stuff too.

T…guess you got a kick out of the poster who fussed at your first for the lame topic yesterday, when we peaked 100 posts. You know I support your blogs…even though I do think you are nuts sometimes :) I an known to be nuts too! It is impossible to please everyone and I appeciate the different topics you dig up for us.

Becky

March 18th, 2010
9:34 am

Like Momof2Girls, I’ve been blessed and haven’t had this problem.. My 2 pretty much never got into stuff when they were little that they weren’t suppose to, so we’ve never had to call poison control..

@Lori..My sister has had problems with her dog and chocolate 2-3 times..She usually puts a kid gate in the kitchen door, but has forgotten a couple of times only to come home and find out that her dog has been in the chocolate..

cld

March 18th, 2010
9:35 am

Lori, good thought. Our dog isn’t curious and never gets into anything. But our son doesn’t think twice about feeding the dog whatever he gets his hands on. Yesterday I made home-made trail mix – and guess what got slipped to the dog – raisins and milk chocolate chips. Luckily, I think the dog only actually ate one or two of them, but I need to make sure the chips of baking chocolate aren’t within toddler reach! I can just see him tasting it, spitting it out, and handing it to the dog.

motherjanegoose

March 18th, 2010
9:36 am

sorry for my typos…I am typing on my little notebook today…

TechMom

March 18th, 2010
9:52 am

@cld raisins & grapes are poisonous to dogs too.

It’s the actual cocoa that’s poisonous to dogs. Since milk chocolate doesn’t have that much cocoa, it’s usually not a huge deal if the dog finds some Hershey Kisses (depending on the size of the dog and how many Kisses of course) but you do have to be extra careful if they get baking chocolate because it has a higher concentration of cocoa.

YUKI

March 18th, 2010
10:00 am

I just programmed it into my phone as well. Thanks for the reminder!

Michelle

March 18th, 2010
10:03 am

MJG…you’re on your laptop! Yeah!!! It’s unusual to see you using your extra technology! LOL! (I am poking fun at you!)

cld-raisins and grapes, both, are very bad for dogs. It can put them into kidney failure! The little ones don’t understand that though!

annoyed

March 18th, 2010
10:04 am

DFACS—Not a funny comment. Especially with the way things are today. You can look at your kids wrong and DFACS is called in.

cld

March 18th, 2010
10:04 am

Techmom, I realize they are poisonous. That’s why I noted them and said that luckily he only ate one or two. I actually didn’t know about the grape/raisin thing until about two years ago. Before that, we actually used to give him raisins sometimes! Then I got one of those warning e-mails from a friend, and we’ve been careful ever since. Well, obviously not perfect . . . but we try not to let any make their way to him.

JATL

March 18th, 2010
10:05 am

Thanks for the reminder! I just called the nanny and asked her to put the children’s Nyquil on top of the fridge where my oldest can’t see or get to it. He LOVES the taste! I have a love/hate relationship with the “yummy” cough medicines these days -yes, kids easily take them, but then they want to drink them!

Michelle

March 18th, 2010
10:09 am

CLD-my son LOVES grapes! We used to let him give them to the dog until we found that out! Our crazy boxer LOVES fruit and vegetables! He goes CRAZY and starts drooling when we begin peeling an orange or clementine (or potato)! I have never seen anything quite like it!

DB

March 18th, 2010
10:15 am

Theresa, no judgement here — sounds like a pretty typical ride through childhood! My kids weren’t too oral, so I didn’t have the “oh, my god, what did you just put in your mouth!?” worries, but my best friend’s kid would eat ANYTHING. Sheesh.

Of course, now that the kids are grown, I now have a DOG that eats everything in sight — so I guess it evens out. :-)
I’m constantly having to pry his mouth open to figure out what that little scrap of something is that is hanging from his mouth as he happily chews!

Wayne

March 18th, 2010
10:16 am

@Michelle: Never seen anything like a Boxer drooling, or that he likes fruits and vegetables? A Boxer drooling is not a pretty sight…

Rectal Bleeding

March 18th, 2010
10:17 am

Wow…..Really? Store medicines, vitamins, household cleaners, cosmetics, lawn, and automotive products in locked cabinets out of the reach and sight of children.

If ANYONE does not know this, or the other “warnings” above, they should not procreate and if they have, their offspring carries the imbecilic gene pool as well, which further endangers the lives of the rest of us. That being the case, they need to be dead. It’s called thinning the herds.

JJ

March 18th, 2010
10:22 am

Grapes are poisonous to dogs too????? My yellow lab LOVES grapes……but only the green ones. She spits the red ones out……

cld

March 18th, 2010
10:25 am

@Rectal Bleeding – You can’t keep ALL those things locked away ALL the time . . . I assume that someone owns these things because they USE them. Which requires getting them out of the cabinet. And sometimes – gasp – you have to use them while the children are in the room. Sometimes you even have to use them on the children. No one is perfect. Stop pretending you are.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 18th, 2010
10:32 am

MJG — After 5 years of coming up with topics, I don’t worry too much about the criticism. It is funny though we can’t talk about sex every day —- I appreciate your support and chiming in even when you privately think it’s a bad topic!!

Michelle

March 18th, 2010
10:34 am

Wayne, not only does he drool, he blows bubbles at the same time! It is SO gross and somewhat comical at the same time!

RB-do you have kids? Sometimes they are VERY resourceful and you cannot watch them 100% of the day! I think people make opportunities to keep those things out of the reach of kids, but clearly doesn’t always happen. Then again, there are some people who have NO common sense!

We all make mistakes

March 18th, 2010
10:37 am

I’ll just second that the GA Poison Control folks are awesome: I’ve called twice, once because my son drank 1/2 a bottle of children’s Motrin and the second time because we switched antibiotics for our other child and I missed the new dosage and gave him more meds than prescribed. Both times, the folks over at poison control were calm and helpful (and in both instances, there was no need to worry) but I was thankful to have that resource and get immediate answers.

fred

March 18th, 2010
10:37 am

This is one reason that I do not like that some (most?) pharmacies now offer to flavor kids medicine. Ours has over 30 flavors they can add. I tell my daughters it is medicine, it is not supposed to taste good, it is supposed to make you feel better. I do not like or want my kids to associate medicine with candy, I have enough trouble with the gummy vitamins. Ipecac was discontinued in favor of charcoal, as absorption and passing through the body is better than a caustic substance passing through your esophagus (sp?) 2 times. also just b/c you throw up, does not mean that all of your stomach contents have been emptied.

TechMom

March 18th, 2010
10:40 am

@JJ everything I’ve read says grapes & raisins are toxic ‘in large quantities’ so I don’t think 4 or 5 grapes every now and then are cause for alarm in a lab but I would be cautious, especially as she gets older and her organs don’t work quite as well. I also just read recently that onions and garlic can cause toxicity in dogs though it has to be in large quantities as well (like a cup’s worth). I think I’d probably be sick if I ate an entire cup of garlic too!

I have two Weimaraners that eat before they taste. Our female is awful and has caused us to learn how to make throw up so we don’t have to pay for another expensive surgery (or put her down if it happens again; she used up her lifetime medical budget by the time she was 2).

Rectal Bleeding

March 18th, 2010
10:44 am

cld – Would you use the same excuse for a gun? If medicines and cleaning agents can kill, like guns do, then why not treat them with the same level of caution?

How many here have their guns within reach of their children?

Wayne

March 18th, 2010
10:46 am

I had a friend who had a Boxer, and they kept his food and water bowl under their kitchen table. Which was glass. Think about that for a bit. Yuck.

JJ

March 18th, 2010
10:51 am

Thanks TechMom….she doesn’t eat a lot of “table food”, but ocassionaly gets a scrap here and there. Now that my daughter is home for spring break, the animals are getting a little spoiled by her.

Wayne

March 18th, 2010
10:53 am

[pondering] Well, I’ve got my bottle of Windex out because I’ve been cleaning my windows all day. OOps! Time to make lunch!

But my gun is in a drawer, by my bedside with a trigger lock because, well, in Mass. at least, I have to have it locked up if it’s not under my direct control.

My closet that has my cleaning supplies has a spring lock on it, about my eye level which is about 5′7″ (and shrinking! Darn it!) and a thingee on the door knob. My weapons are locked up in a case.

I dunno. You can make an argument for any scenario.

ZachsMom

March 18th, 2010
11:03 am

One year at Halloween I left the bowl of chocolate on top of the stove and went out never thinking that the dog could reach it…..several hours later came home and the bowel was on the floor broken and there were candy wrappers all over the floor and on sick looking dog under the table. Of course our vet was closed so I called poison control and the lady that I spoke with assured me that people called about their pets all the time. Asked me what kind of candy, how much my dog weighed and if she had eaten the wrappers. She was more concerned about the paper. Dog was fine but pooped a lot of paper the next day. NEVER looked at chocolate again.

deidre_NC

March 18th, 2010
11:08 am

my grandfather built a medicine cabinet for my sister with a lock and all her meds were in there, didnt stop my 4 year old nephew from climbing on top of the fridge and unlocking the cabinet and eating a bottle of aspirin. he had to have his stomach pumped. if your kid wants to get at something they will try every way possible and sometimes succeed. i think this is a good topic and those who look down on us who are not perfect need to get over themselves. every hear of karma? i have had the stupidest experiences with my kids, here are a few…and yes i always took them to the same urgent care place and wsa finally asked questions about child abuse!! 1-4 yo got his head stuck in a ceiling fan and had to get stitches on his eye lid 2-daughter fell while running and broke her elbow 3-son stabbed himself with a kitchen knife and had to get stictches 4-said son body slammed his little brother and he had to get stitches in his foreheard-5-daughter was feeding the horses and one of them reached over and bit her freaking ear lobe off….no poisonings but geeze….and these are only a few…im sure others have horror stories to tell….stuff happens no matter how diligent you are.

deidre_NC

March 18th, 2010
11:10 am

oh…forgot the youngest one…wrecked on her bike ramp and skinned the whole side off her face and broke her nose….also she and her 16 yo babysitter wrecked on their 4 wheeler and her whole chest was scaped horribly. and no they were not allowed to ride it and they were breaking every rule that had been set…and yes they got into horrible trouble for it all

mothejanegoose

March 18th, 2010
11:16 am

Yes, Michelle…I may be taking mini steps toward technology! My battery on my cell phone pooped out last week. I could get a new phone for free, as I have had mine for 4 years. Since I am in North Dakota, I opted to pay $37 for a new battery and take my old phone with me….the ATT service centers are few and far between and I would go crazy having a phone I could not use. I will get a new phone this summer when I am home and can figure it out. I will show it to you when we get together for lunch o.k.? HAHAHA

My GPS pooped out last week, I just went to BEST BUY to get a new one. It looked FRIED and 2 clerks told me it was toast…nothing could fix it. I took it home to show my husband…he worked on it for 30 minutes and has it working now. My daughter has it.
The funny thing is that he applied for a part time job with GEEK SQUAD and they never even called him. He is awesome with computers and techno stuf…me….NOT! He helps all of our friends.

We had a Labrador who lived to be 14. He ate ANYTHING: apples, broccoli, cheese, geens beans and salad with ranch dressing…not Italian :). When he turned 12, the Vet asked me to tell him about his diet. Our dog was so healthy.
I fessed up and he laughed and said, “Well, no point in changing anything now..since he is in good shape.”
We never had left overs, as our dog took care of it.

DB

March 18th, 2010
11:28 am

I left a pan of newly-made fudge on the counter — BACK against the wall, covered. Came back an hour later and the dog had pawed the pan over to the edge and licked a major hole into the middle of the pan. *sigh*. Fixed gingerbread for dessert a couple of weeks ago, and my daughter forgot to push the pan back that evening after a snack — we realized the dog was quiet, and when we checked, he was happily munching down on the left-over gingerbread (two squares). I mean, it’s not as though we don’t feed him!!!

Thanks for the tip on the baking chocolate — time to rearrange the pantry!

lakerat

March 18th, 2010
11:28 am

Never had problems with the kids but the dog ate the rat poison I put out in the yard – we called “animal” poison control and they told us how to deal with it, and the mutt is still with us.

Another time we had another dog drink a large amount of gasoline – he ran and ran in circles and then keeled over. We rushed him to the vet, told her what had happened, and asked if the dog was dead – was told, no, he had only run out of gas!

cld

March 18th, 2010
11:36 am

@RB: I don’t have guns. The fact that I have a child is one reason.

TechMom

March 18th, 2010
11:38 am

@lakerat – LMAO “out of gas!”

Our microwave has become our food storage location of choice for things like brownies and cakes (stuff you don’t want to put in the fridge but will get lost in the pantry). We have some serious counter-surfing going on but they haven’t figured out how to open the microwave.

I took a couple of Uncrustables (frozen PB&Js) out last week before the boy’s hockey game and put them on the counter for a few minutes to thaw since we weren’t going to have time for dinner before the game. A few minutes later I walked into the kitchen to find only wrappers on the floor. Not poisonous but geesh, dang dog, eat your own food!

Tara

March 18th, 2010
11:44 am

It’s good to know people call Poison Control for their animals. I had no idea raisins were bad for dogs until I gave my puppy some leftover Christmas cookies with raisins. He vomitted twice and had diarrhea for days, but luckily no kidney damage. It was late at night when he got sick, so I waited until the next day to call the vet (not knowing how dangerous grapes could be). I wish I had thought to call Poison Control then! It turned out ok and he’s fine, but from what I’ve read since then about raisins/grapes and dogs, the next morning would’ve been too late if they’d affected his kidney function.

JATL

March 18th, 2010
11:45 am

@RB -I don’t have a gun in my home because I have a very headstrong child. However, I’m not anti-gun, but I don’t think parents with any sense really need to have their guns out around their kids, lying on counters, etc. like they do with cough medicines and Tylenol that the kids actually use.

motherjanegoose

March 18th, 2010
11:56 am

Years ago…my sister left 2 freshly baked blueberry ( and hand made from scratch) pies to cool on her counter. She planned to take a shower before she headed out with them. Fully dressed, she was greeted by her happy dog with BLUE whiskers. We then learned the microwave storage trick. Have fun all!

Can dogs have blueberries? He was a Shetland Sheep Dog.