2009-03-21 / News

Protect your children from poisons

NEWARK - The third week in March is both Inhalants and Poison Awareness Week and Poison Prevention Week..

According to Licking County Health Commissioner Joe Ebel, each year approximately 2.4 million people inhale, swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance. Sadly, half of those people are young children.

Most poisonings take place when children are not being closely supervised or when there is a change in routine such as around the holidays. Children come into contact with common household products such as cleaning solutions, windshield wiper fluid, antifreeze, pesticides, or medicine. All too often these products are stored in colorful containers that appeal to children.

In order to prevent accidental poisonings medicine, cleaners, and pesticides should be stored in locked cabinets. As an added precaution medicine bottles should have safety caps and unused medicines should be discarded. Medicine should never be referred to as "candy".

If you think someone has come in contact with a poison call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If someone is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions call 911.

There are over 1,000 common household products that can cause unintentional death when inhaled. In the United States one in five youth report using an inhalant to get high by the time they reached the eighth grade. Prolonged sniffing or "huffing" of certain chemicals in solvents or in aerosol sprays can cause an irregular heartbeat and can lead to heart failure and death within minutes.

Parents need to be alert to signs that their children may be using inhalants. Some of these are: chemical odors on clothing or breath; stains on hands, face, or clothes; hidden, empty spray paint cans; disoriented appearance; irritability and lack of coordination.

For more information, please contact Mary Beth Hagstad, Child and Family Health Services Director at (740) 349-6685, call the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition at 1-800-269-4237, or visit www.cdc.gov/poison.

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