Of the estimated 10,000 poisonings each day in the United States, some seven of every 10 incidents involve children under the age of 5 and almost all are accidental exposures, according to national statistics.
The data, supplied by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), reveals that poisoning incidents are responsible for one of every 10 emergency department visits. They account for a comparable percentage of ambulance responses and for some 4 percent of all hospital admissions.Between 8,000 and 10,000 poisoning victims - children and adults - die each year.
Because many household poisonings occur when parents are away from home, AAPCC recommends that sitters and children be instructed on how to avoid or react to poisonings. Some guidelines stressed for baby sitters include:
- Always take children with you when answering phones or doors, and never leave them alone in a room.
- Never leave open bottles of medicine or cleaners within a child's reach.
- Call the poison control center immediately if a child is suspected of being exposed to a possibly toxic substance.
- Be aware that household items such as deodorants, hairspray, paint, perfume, shoe polish, insecticides and vitamins are potentially poisonous for a child.
AAPCC offers this advice for parents:
- Place a sticker on the phone with the telephone number of the poison control center.
- Display in a prominent spot an "Emergency Action for Poisoning" information card which can be obtained free by sending a post card to: Emergency Action for Poisoning, Communications Department, McNeil Consumer Products Co., Camp Hill Road, Fort Washington, PA 19034.
Poison control centers provide daily, 24-hour access to comprehensive poison information, treatment services, a toll-free telephone line and transportation for the critically ill.