Did you know that Poisoning is the #1 cause of injury-related death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control?
During Poison Prevention week each March, the nation’s spotlight turns to focusing on poisonings and how we can best prevent them. While this issue is one that is ever present, you might be astonished to know that social media is helping dangerous trends to continue. For example, a recent “Tide Pod Challenge” finds teens accepting dares to chew laundry packets and share the experience on social media. Clearly, this could lead to poisoning. Additionally, a few years ago, there was concern about Tide Pods being confused by toddlers for candy. These two examples could be followed by many more, and remind us that all age groups are at risk, not just small children.
Other drugs and substances that resemble foods or candies can cause confusion with kids and lead to poisonings. Think gummy vitamins or chewable medicines, e-cigarette “juice”, marijuana cookies, iron tablets, etc.
It’s always a good time of year to think carefully about your own environment and consider what could be mistaken by someone as a safe substance that could actually be toxic. Always keep medicines locked up or in a safe place. “Up and away and out of sight” is the mantra to use. Chemicals and cleaners shouldn’t be stored in containers that confuse what they are, such as cups or food storage containers.
It’s also important to keep in mind that child-proof lids on prescription medications are not truly child proof. They are designed to deter tampering by children, but won’t always stop them. A determined child or pet will possibly be able to get into the medication.
And it’s not only children we need be concerned about. It’s not uncommon for mistakes to happen, so be sure to read labels before each dose. Don’t medicate in the dark. Keep in mind that medications in tubes can be mistaken for toothpaste and should be treated the same as medications in bottles….remember “up and away and out of sight”.
If a poisoning does occur, call the Poison Help line immediately at 800-222-1222. It’s a good idea to program that number into your phone also.
Consider calling 911 if the person can’t be awakened or has collapsed, is having a seizure, or difficulty breathing.
Don’t forget to get rid of unneeded medications in the home. National Take Back Day happens on April 28th, but medications can be disposed of all of the time at the Indiana Boro Police Department, the Indiana County District Attorney’s Office, and the State Police barracks.
This week, join me in doing your part to prevent a tragic poisoning.
This article adapted from “Spark Discussions During National Poison Prevention Week. Pharmacist’s Letter, March 2018.”
The Gatti Team
Information, tips and more from the Gatti Pharmacists and staff.