Name Your Poison I’ll Pass Thanks

SIMPLYkc Magazine November 2012 issue
by Stacey Hatton

What produces more fear than scanning a full cart of groceries, then remembering you left your wallet at home? Having to make a call to Poison Control! The adrenaline surges, your heart pounds, and your mouth becomes dryer than a Sahara mirage as your “Parent of the Year” crown is stripped away as you push speed dial…

Who is at Risk?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Each year, approximately 2.4 million people – more than half under age 6 – swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance.”

The Kansas City metro’s Poison Control is run by the University of Kansas Hospital. They receive approximately 30,000 calls/year, and have been taking these calls since 1982. Dr. Tama Sawyer, Director of the Poison Control Center at the University of Kansas Hospital says, “Poisoning has overtaken motor vehicle accidents as the number one cause of deaths in the U.S. last year. The numbers keep increasing. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, old or young; it can happen to anyone.”

The center’s busiest hours are near the end of the day. “The biggest time for calls to our center is at 4:00pm. When moms are getting dinner ready and ask the older kids to watch out for the toddlers,” Sawyer says.

She also warns that when kids travel to their grandparents’ houses for babysitting or family get-togethers, “Daily pill reminders are great for grandparents, but NOT for kids.” These containers are usually kept easily visible for the grandparent so they won’t forget to take their medications – which are terribly dangerous for children –it is like opening up a toxic candy store for young kids with all the small pretty colored pills.

Common Calls to Poison Control
The American Association of Poison Control Centers say the majority of these calls occur when someone is home with the child, but just not paying attention. Make sure to lock up these items, or keep them out of reach:
• Medicines (vitamins, herbals, pain medications, diaper rash creams)
• Foreign objects (silica gel packages, glow products, batteries)
• Cleaning products (laundry detergent, floor cleaners, furniture polish)
• Cosmetics (makeup, perfume, nail polish, nail polish remover)
• Personal care products (deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap)
• Garage items (antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil)

The AAP states if a child is “unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures due to poison contact or ingestion, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.”

If your child has contact with a poison, and the child has either no symptoms or mild symptoms, first aid should be performed first and THEN poison control should be called immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

If your child has…
Swallowed poison: Take leftover poison away from child and have her spit out any remainder from her mouth. Do NOT have her vomit!! Do NOT use syrup of ipecac.
Poison on the skin: Remove child’s clothing and rinse his skin directly with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
Poison in the eye: Wash child’s eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a continuous flow of body temperature water into the inner corner for 15 minutes.
Poison fumes: Take child into fresh air immediately. If the child isn’t breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and continue until the child breathes on his own, or until someone can take over. (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics)

What is the benefit of calling the poison center?
Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year staffed with poison experts. The conversations are FREE and CONFIDENTIAL. Since many poison exposures, may not require medical attention and can be dealt with in your own home, it is best to find this out over the phone without having an ambulance or emergency room bill to pay for the same answer. Remember to act swiftly and always have the number readily available!
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© 2012, Stacey Hatton. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Name Your Poison I’ll Pass Thanks

  1. Lisa B., I have to admit after researching the poison topic again, I threw my hands up and said, “Why didn’t anyone text me about this Ipecac thang!?” Then I promptly poured mine down the sink. I personally think the reasoning behind many of the more recent changes in medical protocols (i.e. CPR technique, no barfing after ingesting toxic substances, and the removal of many combined pediatric drugs) is people are afraid of being sued. If you set out a blank statement to not do something b/c they think the average schmoe is too ignorant to follow directions on the bottle, then the higher-ups are better covering their booties and booty. This is just my thought on the deal, but there seems to be a pattern here. What do you think?

  2. Excellent info – interesting that 4 pm is the worst time of the day for poison. Why not have them vomit? Curious about that one. Best if all eyes are kept on a small child that could get into anything. That is so scary when they do come in contact with any of that stuff that can be poisonous.

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