ver notice that Motrin tablets resemble orange M&Ms?
Or that aspirin is a dead ringer for Certs?
What about the similarity between ExLax and a Hershey Bar?
Well, your kids sure have. So, this Halloween, how do you ensure they are getting tricks and treats rather than picking their poison?
“It’s no secret that children are bundles of curiosity, anxious to see, touch, smell and taste everything in their path – especially if the object in question resembles candy in any way,” said Anita Benavidez, BS, CPhT, Sanford-Brown College’s Pharmacy Technician Program Chair in Phoenix. “For some of these children, however, this seemingly harmless curiosity can mean grave danger.”
According to the Poison Prevention Council, approximately 30 children die each year from accidental poisonings, and approximately one million frantic adults call Poison Control Centers each year to seek help when children under the age of six have swallowed harmful substances, including household chemicals and medicines, often having mistaken them for candy or new toys.
Children, especially under the age of five, often explore their world with their mouths. That means that anything low enough for a child to reach is likely to end up in their mouths.
“To help keep children safe, parents should store household products, such as window cleaner and furniture polish, out of a child’s reach in the garage,” said Benavidez. “At the very minimum, these items should be stored high in locked cabinets.”
Benavidez also recommends parents making an effort to see the world through their children’s eyes. To young children, bright colored medicine bottles and candy-shaped pills look more like tasty treats than potentially fatal substances.
Children are also at risk while visiting family or friends – or visiting them to collect Halloween treats. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 90 percent of poisonings occur in the home. For this reason, it is important that parents not only take the time to educate themselves, but also educate other potential caregivers including grandparents and babysitters as well. Parents must provide anyone and everyone who watches their children with a list of emergency contact numbers and helpful tips-just in case.
Parents should practice the following tips to avoid accidental poisonings:
- Use child-resistant packaging, remembering to secure containers after use
- Keep chemicals and medicines locked up and out of sight
- Watch young children closely while using cleaners or gardening products
- Leave original labels on all products
- Always take or dispense medications in a well-lit area to ensure proper dosage
- Never refer to medicine as “candy”
- Post the number for your local poison control center in a highly visible location
In addition, vomiting, sluggish actions or drowsy behavior may indicate that a child has ingested a harmful substance. Evidence of the product may also be on the child’s nose, mouth or on their breath. If parents believe their child has ingested a hazardous chemical or medication, they should immediately contact their local poison control center.
“You should also educate your children to spot the signs of a potential poisoning in their friends and siblings,” said Benavidez. “And that they should notify a grown-up immediately no matter what.”
For more information, please visit the American Poison Control Center website at www.aapcc.org.