A rising number of childhood poisonings
I don’t know much about e-cigarettes and vaping, but a recent study alarmed me. More kids are being poisoned because of them.
These devices use liquid nicotine, which can either be swallowed or absorbed into children’s skin. A small dose of nicotine can make a child sick; a large dose can kill.
Very small children are at the most risk.
Another type of accidental poisoning is also on the rise—prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone.
Related post: First aid for poisoning
Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever before, so it’s no wonder that more children are accidentally swallowing their parents’ or grandparents’ pills.
Know the poison control number
An accidental poisoning requires immediate information and possible emergency treatment. Put the National Poison Control number in your phone and your child’s caregivers’ phones, and keep it posted near your landline, if you have one.
⇒Poison Help 1-800-222-1222⇐
The National Poison Center has a fantastic website with lots of information to help prevent or respond to accidental poisonings.
Their monthly newsletter contains questions & answers about stuff commonly eaten by toddlers and pets: baby shampoo, mistletoe, perfume, cleaning solutions, plants, etc.
They also offer a free smartphone app that can help you in case of a possible poisoning. Follow the directions, and the app will let you know if you need to call for emergency help.
Of course, it’s best to avoid accidental poisonings by keeping dangerous substances well out of reach of children (and pets).
I like this advice from an emergency room physician:
- Watch out for “Grandma’s Purse Syndrome”: Haha, I like this visual. Family members and visitors may bring medications with them in their purses or pockets. Especially an elderly family member who may take several medications at different times during the day. Don’t be afraid to ask these visitors about any medications, and then make sure they (the drugs, not the people) are placed well out of reach.
- Think “Triple-Layer Protection”: Child-proof lids are not enough. Drugs should also be behind a locked cabinet door that is out-of-reach.
- Call medicine “Medicine”: Teach kids early that drugs are not candy or toys. It’s tempting, I know, to coax a recalcitrant kid to take a medication by saying “It’s yummy,” or something like that, but don’t.
Also, be careful of how you dispose of “empty” bottles of cleaning liquids, or tubes of medication, or vials of nicotine. Toddlers will happily scrounge in a garbage can, and there might be enough of the substance left to cause harm.
When I first began nursing, the popular belief was that putting the bright green “Mr. Yuk” stickers on toxic products would deter children. Not so. Research in day cares has shown these type of stickers actually attract kids, so don’t use them. Just keep potentially harmful products locked up and out of reach.
There is a lot of great information for parents online, and I’ll put more resources for poison prevention and child safety on my Resources page.
And did I mention you should know the poison control number? Here it is again!
⇒Poison Help 1-800-222-1222⇐