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Published: March, 2008; Vol 4, Num 10

 

Protect against Accidental Poisoning at Home

As a Laborer, safeguarding yourself against workplace hazards – chemicals and toxins – is always important, but did you know that dangers lurk in your home too? Every year, Poison Control Centers across America report two million possible poisonings. Your children, pets and older relatives are especially vulnerable. Fortunately, you can help reduce these risks. Make safety a priority at home by taking the right preventative steps.

Raise your own awareness. Check your entire home, including the front and back yard, the garage, the kitchen, bathrooms and closets. Are any toxic or potentially toxic items in plain sight? Start by putting them away in cabinets or on shelves that are out of the reach of curious little hands. Purchase products with child-resistance caps, and childproof all lower cabinets. Another rule of thumb is to never switch bottles. Cleaning products, medicines and any other potential dangers should always stay in their original containers.

You can’t be everywhere all the time. That’s where “Mr. Yuk” comes in. In 1971, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh developed this easily recognizable green and black sticker to deter children from poisonous items. You can get a free sheet and other poison prevention materials from the Pittsburgh Poison Center.

Open a door or window when using cleaning products. Be especially mindful when working in close spaces such as bathrooms and closets. Also, think about the protective clothing that you wear at work. Similar precautions should be taken at home when handling household chemicals such as bleach or pesticides. Wear gloves, long sleeves and pants, shoes and socks to prevent injury from splashes and spills.

Be careful with your medicine. Adult medications can be the most lethal kind of accidental poisoning in children, according to WebMD. It is a good idea to keep lists of all prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements and vitamins in the house so that you know what you have and where everything is. Also, when you take your medicine, don’t do it in front of your children and never refer to medicine as candy.

When taking or giving medications, check the dosages in a well-lit area to be sure that you have the right amount. Remember that children are not the only ones who need help. Labels can be difficult to read for those with declining eyesight. Whenever possible, assist seniors when they are taking their medications. A pill box is a great way to help older relatives and friends stay organized so that there is never a question of when and how much to take.

Don’t forget about your pets. The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” has more truth to it than you may think. The innate curiosity of animals makes them extremely susceptible to accidental poisoning. Anti-freeze is particularly attractive to dogs and cats. Keep containers safely stored, and check the garage floor and driveway for spills. Insect and rodent traps are also hazards that should not be used around children or pets.

Keep in mind that, even in small doses, drugs meant for human consumption can be lethal for pets. Do not give your animal painkillers, cold and flu medicine, anti-cancer drugs, alcohol, antidepressants, vitamins or diet pills. For an extensive list of potentially dangerous household products, visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

If you suspect that a child or senior adult has exposed themselves to poisoning, immediately call the 24/7 Poison Control Center helpline at 1-800-222-1222. For pet concerns, call your veterinarian. Keep all emergency contact numbers by the telephone for easy access.

Whether you are at work or at home, you can never be too careful. Visit PoisonPrevention.org, and learn more on how to ensure the health and safety of your loved ones.

[Jennifer E. Jones]