March 20-26 is National Poison Prevention Week. It was created to help the public become more aware of the dangers posed by common toxins. Many poison substances are found in every home. Adults can do some things to build a defense against accidental poisonings.
Here are some ways to safeguard family members and pets from accidental poisoning:
1. Put Child-Safety Locks on cabinets that house cleaning supplies, medicines, cosmetics, chemicals and other poisons. Never assume a cabinet is too high for a curious, climbing toddler.
2. Follow the Product-Label Directions. Be sure and read the label and pay particular attention to products whose labels include the words "Caution," "Warning," "Danger" or "Poison."
3. Throw away medications that are no longer needed or are past their expiration date. Do not flush them down the sink or toilet. Doing so can contaminate our water supplies. One option is to take pills out of their containers and discard them in the trash. However, this still creates a potential environmental problem and can be a potential danger to curious children and pets. A better option is to participate in local programs that collect old and unwanted medications. Visit the Take-Back Network website (www.takebacknetwork.com) to find a program in your area.
4. Keep all household products in their original packages. The label has useful first-aid information in the event of accidental swallowing. If you purchase these products in bulk quantities, buy a smaller size of the same product and refill this container, as needed.
5. Discard empty cleaning supply containers such as detergent containers. Do not use them for storage of any other materials, particularly food that people would eat.
6. Thoroughly wash any spoons or utensils used in dispensing or measuring medicines.
7. Wash your hands after cleaning-product usage.
8. Put the lid securely back on the child-resistant container after each use. Remember, however, "child-resistant" packaging is" not "child-proof." It is not a substitute for keeping products securely out of reach of young children. Be aware that poisons can be inhaled, as well as ingested.
9. Don’t mix household cleaning products. This could release harmful vapors or cause other chemical reactions that can have dangerous results.
10. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces. Since carbon monoxide is a deadly, but odorless, substance, working CO detectors should be essential equipment in your home.
11. Post the Poison Control Center Phone Number (1-800-222-1222) by every phone in your home and enter it into your cell phone’s contact list.
Source: Cleaning Matters Newsletter, March April Edition.