Poison prevention is something that college students rarely think about. It may bring back memories of sitting on the carpet in kindergarten and listening to health educators talk about the dangers of poison and how to avoid these dangers. However, Poison Prevention Month is something that our society as a whole should embrace and regard as very important. It is up to us as productive members of society to protect the innocent children of the world from threats of poison that we can easily control.
Many students at WCU hold jobs as babysitters; it is an easy way to make some extra cash while attending school. Most of them, however, do not think about accidental poisonings. Poison Prevention Month is all about getting the word out and making people aware that this is a problem, and it needs a solution.
Everyday, there are thousands of people who bring a child into the world, and accidental poisoning is the last thing on their minds. However, the threat is real, and it needs to be addressed.
From 2002-2004, about 36 children ages five or younger died as a result of ingesting poison found around their homes. And in 2005, about 91,000 children visited the hospital because of accidental ingestion of some household poison. Also in 2005 about one million calls were placed to poison control centers around the nation. The unfortunate problem is that these poisonings could have been very easily avoided.
Children are curious by nature, and it is this curiosity that allows them to explore their surroundings and basically put anything they find in their mouths. Anyone who has watched a small child can relate; whatever a child finds on the ground they are going to try and eat. It could be a harmless chocolate chip dropped on the floor after baking, but it also could be poisonous.
Also, there are many household items that are enticing to a child. A bottle of orange-scented floor cleaner could easily be mistaken for juice. Also the medicine in a bottle of prescription medication can look like candy to a small child. These are just a few of the dangers that need to be assessed.
Here are some tips for avoiding accidental poisonings in your own home.
1. Take a tour of your home. Make sure your entire home is safe for children can help avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room.
2. Install child-proof locks on cabinets that house cleaning supplies. Never assume a cabinet is too high for a curious, climbing toddler.
3. Keep all household products in their original packages. Packaging includes useful first aid information in the event of accidental exposure or ingestion.
4. Read and follow the product label directions.
5. Don’t leave cleaning buckets unattended. Even those with a small amount of liquid pose a danger to “top heavy” toddlers. If the child falls into a bucket, it may not tip over and he or she could drown.
6. Schedule cleaning during “down times” such as nap time or when children are in school, or on a play date.
7. Take out only the amount of cleaning product needed for the job at hand. Store the rest away securely, so there’s no chance that small explorers will get their hands on it.
8. Immediately clean up any spillage.
9. Avoid distractions or interruptions when children are present during cleaning. If you answer the door, take the child with you. If the phone rings, let the answering machine do its job.
10. Post the Poison Control Center phone number (1-800-222-1222) by every land phone in your home, and save it on your cell phone.
Poison control is a serious matter and should be taken seriously. Please remember to watch your children carefully and to keep household cleaners, medications and automotive supplies locked up at all times. Also if you think your child may have ingested poison call your local poison control center immediately.
Tony Higman is a fourth-year student majoring in Psychology with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AH577216@wcupa.edu.