Written by SMH Emergency Medicine/Toxicology Clinical Pharmacist Jeremy Lund
Most families are spending more time at home these days, which means parents — or grandparents — are more often treating bumps and bruises, or a curious kiddo who ate something they shouldn’t have. Care for your crew safely with these tips to prevent accidental poisoning.
Don’t Take Too Much!
When your little one needs something to reduce pain or fever, giving a little Tylenol should be fine. But be sure to keep track of all the medicines you’re giving them. Many over-the-counter medications — especially cough and cold preparations — also contain acetaminophen; while it’s safe enough in the proper dosage, it’s deceptively easy to overdo.
Tip: Always double check the packaging to ensure you know what you’re giving your child, and ask your pharmacist for help if you are unsure.
Easy Dose It
Dosing your child’s (or grandchild’s) liquid medications can be tricky. Giving a child a “teaspoon” of medication is intended to be 5 milliliters, but household teaspoons vary widely in the amount of liquid they actually hold. The same is true for tablespoons, which traditionally are thought to hold 15 milliliters.
Tip: Always use a dosing cup to measure out the exact amount recommended for your child (by age / weight).
Careful with Chemicals
Do you use chemicals / fertilizers to keep your yard and landscaping looking its best? While pesticides and herbicides may protect those award-winning begonias, they can also be dangerous to you, your children and your pets! Of course, you hope your kid isn’t eating the flowers anyways, but did you know that many of these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin? Oral ingestion is not needed to produce poisoning.
Tip: Read the packaging for each fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide or related product you use to ensure your lawn is people- and pet-safe after using the products.
Do You Smell That?
No, you don’t. Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is both colorless and odorless. But it is far from harmless, and can build up without obvious warning.
Produced from the combustion of fuel, such as gasoline, common routes of exposure include mechanical faults and failures in automobile exhaust systems, house heating systems, water heaters, power generators used during severe weather, and even boats.
Tip: Prevent CO poisoning by installing CO monitors in your home; having your car inspected immediately if you smell exhaust in the cabin; keeping your generator outside when in use; and staying at least 20 feet away from running boats.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
Poison Control has your family’s back — and it’s a free service. If you need assistance or have questions about poisons or poison prevention, call 1-800-222-1222. You will be connected to one of the 55 Poison Control Centers (PCCs) in the US; our local PCC is the Florida Poison Control Center-Tampa.
Tip: If you visit a hospital after speaking with a PCC, tell your nurse / physician which PCC you spoke to so they can contact the PCC for more information.
Sarasota Memorial Emergency Care/Toxicology Clinical Pharmacist Jeremy Lund, PharmD, MS, BCCCP, BCPS, has treated numerous emergency cases of accidental poisonings and chemical exposures, including many preventable pediatric poisonings.