Poison Prevention: Children Act Fast (cont.)

Moderator: Dr. Geller, if I find my child playing with a bottle of medicine or some household product, how can I tell if he/she has swallowed some and what should I do?

Dr. Geller: Actually, that's a more difficult question that it sounds. The intuitive answer is to assume that if the bottle is still closed, the child didn't get any but there are times, when that is not true. And a child who is able to open a bottle, may be able to close it as well. So I think that in addition to looking at whether the bottle seems to be about as full as it was when you last saw it, we'd like to see if there's any evidence of the substance in the child's mouth, on the child, or around the child's mouth. We could add that we want to use all of our senses determining if there is anything on or about the child.

Cucchi: I think a key point is that it's better to be safe than sorry, and make that call to a poison control center, if you suspect a poisoning has occurred, for further advice even if symptoms are not showing.

Moderator:H ow effective is child-resistant packaging? Is it necessary to use child-resistant packaging if no children live in my home?

Cucchi: Child resistant packaging is an effective method to reduce the number of self-induced poisonings. It's important to note that child safety packaging or child resistant caps are not childproof and they are used often as a delay mechanism to keep the child out of the product, but they must be used properly, and properly meaning the cap needs to be secured on the bottle at all times. So to be effective, keeping the caps on all the time, but also keeping the product, whether it be a medicine or a cleaning product, storing these products in locked cabinets as well provides an additional barrier to keep the child out. So even if you don't have children who live in your home, it's a good idea to use child resistant packaging if you have visitors who have children who come and visit your home. The national theme for poison prevention week is, "Children act fast" which mean children can get into poisonous products if they are not stored properly. So lock them up in child resistant packaging, then lock them up in a locked cabinet

Moderator: Is there evidence that deaths from child poisonings have decreased since child-resistant packaging began to be used?

Dr. Geller: When the poison prevention packaging act of 1974 was first enacted, there was a phase-in period that allowed manufacturers to put child safety closures on their products over a period of time, and different products were phased in in sequence One of the first products to be required to be sold in child safety closures was aspirin. What we have seen with aspirin and with every other class of products that required the use of child safety closures was approximately a two-thirds reduction in the death rate from poisoning. for that product class. That number is very interesting when taken in light of a study that shows that only about two-thirds of child safety closures are actually in use at any time.

tenuli_WebMD: What are the most common poisons children get into?

Cucchi: The most common substances reported in poisonings reported to the Georgia Center include medication and vitamins. About 50% of the poisonings that we receive involve medicines. Common medicines would include things like painkillers, cough and cold medicines, anti-depressants, and vitamins. Household products such as cleaning, home maintenance, laundry, automobile, and gardening products. As well as cosmetics, personal hygiene, and art and hobby supplies are also common poisoning. And the third common call we receive is in regard to indoor/outdoor plants, berries and mushrooms. Many people also don't recognize that bites from insects, snakes, spiders, and even animal bites are common calls that the Georgia Poison Center receives as well.

Moderator: Paige, are there some good housekeeping rules to follow to poison-proof my house?

Cucchi: the first thing is to store your poisons properly, which includes keeping them in locked cabinets out of the reach and sight of your children and pets. Keep poisons stored in the bottles that they came in and make sure that the bottles are clearly labeled. Use child resistant packaging as much as you can, and make sure the caps are on tight at all times. And never store poisons in drink or food bottles. Second main point would be to use your poisons safely, which means reading the label on the bottle before using a poison, whether it be a medicine or a household cleaning product. While using a poison, never leave it out where a child may find it, and make sure you return the poison to a locked cabinet after you are done using it. When giving medication, never turn it into a game or call medicine candy. Avoid taking medicine in front of your child, or give medicine to another child while they're watching. Children are natural mimics, and tend to try to take medications when you're not looking. And the last thing to remember is to supervise your child. Studies suggest that poisonings occur when you are busy and routines are disrupted.