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Posted by Dr. Monica Wonnacott | March 29, 2016

Poison Control And Prevention

Did you know that there is an annual National Poison Prevention Week? It is always the third week in March. In honor of the week, I thought today’s post should be on poisonings.

Fast facts:

  1. More than a million American children under the age of 6 suffer from poisoning annually.
  2. More than 90% of poisonings happen at home with household goods.
  3. Poison Control can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222 by anyone.
  4. Doctors (whether in the ER, office, or on call) use poison control as a resource to manage patients with poisoning. Kind of nice to know you have direct access to the doctor’s resource, right?


It’s always better to prevent than treat after-the-fact. Here are some quick pointers:

  1. Keep cleaners and other hazardous products in cabinets out of your child’s reach. (How many of us have our bathroom cleaners under the sink?)
  2. Store medications in their original containers (which usually have safety caps on them), out of reach, and preferably locked.
  3. Never put poisonous products in containers that were once used for food (especially empty drink bottles).
  4. Don’t take medications in front of small children (who are inclined to imitate you later). Never tell them it is “candy.”
  5. Use proper measurement methods when giving medication (use a syringe rather than a spoon, etc.)
  6. Remember, “child resistant” doesn’t mean “child proof.” I like to think of it as a “child delay.” All it does is buy you time before they get into it. Don’t count on caps as your method of safety.


  1. Get any poisonous remnants out of the mouth (particles of chewed tablets, etc.).
  2. Call Poison Control, 1-800-222-1222. They can help you determine if the exposure is something to worry about and if you need to seek immediate medical care.
    1. When you call: Have the bottle of what was ingested with you. It will give them information on ingredients and total possible amount ingested (e.g., if the bottle came with 50 pills originally and 30 are left, that leaves a max of 20 pills consumed).
  3. Do not induce vomiting. The days of giving ipecac are long gone. Many substances can cause esophageal burns on the way back up.
  4. Do not play chemist and give something else to “neutralize” what was ingested. Often things given to fix the problem end up compounding the problem.

May you never have to deal with any toxic exposures with your children, but just in case you ever do, hopefully you’re better equipped to handle it. Stay safe!