DEAR ABBY: I first wrote to you four years ago about the importance of child-resistant caps on medicine containers. They have helped reduce aspirin deaths in children by 88 percent!
During National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25, I hope you will once again run your valuable tips on how to poison-proof your home. In addition, please let your readers know that children aren't the only ones exposed to poisons. Adult poisonings account for more than 24 percent of the calls received by poison centers nationwide.Thank you, Abby, for letting your readers know about this important information. - ELIZABETH BENNETT, SEATTLE POISON CENTER
DEAR ELIZABETH: Thank you for your letter and for bringing to my attention the problem of accidental poisonings in adults. As it is the responsibility of adults to poison-proof their homes for children, we must also practice poison prevention for ourselves. Here are some important poison prevention tips:
- Never store potentially poisonous substances in unmarked containers or containers associated with eating and drinking. Never mix cleaning products together.
- Always read and follow label instructions when working with ALL poisonous substances. Never use industrial products in the home.
- Wear protective clothing and goggles, and ensure adequate ventilation when working with hazardous substances.
- Never take old or outdated drugs.
- Develop a system to remind yourself when to take your medicine.
- Don't share your prescription drugs with others or take someone else's.
- Be sure to keep drugs in their original containers.
- Never take medicine in front of children. They love to imitate adults. Also, never call medicine "candy."
- Store all cleaning supplies out of sight and out of reach of children.
Here's a checklist of potential poisons found in the home. These products should be locked up or kept out of reach of children.
KITCHEN: aspirin, vitamins, furniture polish, detergents, cleansers, ammonia.
BEDROOM: all medications, cosmetics, perfume.
LAUNDRY: bleaches, detergents, disinfectants.
CLOSETS/ATTIC/STORAGE PLACES: rat and ant poison, mothballs.
BATHROOM: all drugs and pills, shampoo, nail polish and polish remover, lotions, deodorizers, pine oil, bath oil.
GARAGE/BASEMENT/WORKSHOP: lye, gasoline, lighter fluid, paint remover and thinner, paint, anti-freeze.
GENERAL: flaking paint and repainted toys (old paint contains lead). Some flowers and plants are poisonous. Protect your children and pets.
FIRST AID FOR POISONINGS: Keep ipecac syrup on hand in your home, but do not use it except on the advice of your poison center or physician. (Call information now for your local poison center's 24-hour hot-line number and keep it on or near your phone.)