Poison-Proof Your Home

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“Poison-Proof Your Home,” Ensign, Mar. 1974, 61

Poison-Proof Your Home

During March, the United States observes its National Poison Prevention Week. Spain, Italy, and Canada reportedly will conduct dovetailed activities as well.

Drinking turpentine stored in a soft drink bottle or eating baby aspirin thinking it candy are common with children. Each year an estimated 500,000 children yearly accidentally swallow toxic or potentially toxic substances. Even more shocking is the fact that 95 percent of the children under the age of five who are poisoned are under adult supervision.

The Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 makes it hard for youngsters to get into pill bottles and boxes, but parents can further “poison-proof” their homes by following these guidelines:

1. Keep household products and medicines out of reach and out of children’s sight, preferably in a locked cabinet or closet. (Even a fishing tackle box or suitcase will do.)

2. Separate medicines from other household products. Never store them in cups or soft drink bottles.

3. Always read the label before administering medicine. Be sure all products are properly labeled.

4. Avoid taking medication in the presence of children, since they imitate adults.

5. Never encourage children to take medicine by calling it “candy” since they may later be tempted to eat it as a treat.

6. Clean out your medicine chest periodically. Never throw medicines in trash cans. Flush them down the drain and rinse the bottles before discarding.

7. Keep handy the phone numbers of your doctor, police, local hospital emergency room, and, if your city has one, the poison clinic.

8. Keep syrup of Ipecac on hand for inducing vomiting if this is the prescribed treatment. Activated charcoal should be kept for first-aid use, according to the information on the label and your physician’s instructions.

If poisoning is suspected, summon medical aid. If an overdose of aspirin is suspected, induce vomiting. If the product contains petroleum distillates, caustics, or alkali, have the victim drink milk or water to dilute the substance.

Alton L. Thygerson
Brigham Young University Department of Health Sciences