Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Poisons Overview

Poisons Overview

The danger of poisons

Persons of any age can become ill if they come into contact with certain medications, household pesticides, chemicals, cosmetics, or plants. However, children, in particular, continue to face a greater risk of unintentional poisoning death and exposure than adults - not only because they are smaller, but, also because they have faster metabolic rates and are less able physically to handle toxic chemicals.

What causes poisonings?

Young children are poisoned most often by things in the home, such as, but not limited to, the following:

Increasingly, carbon monoxide poisoning and lead poisoning are posing a threat to both children and adults. While serious reactions can occur in all cases of poisoning, most persons are not permanently harmed if they are treated immediately.

How do most poisonings occur?

More than 90 percent of all poison exposures occur in the home. Among children ages 5 and under, 57 percent of poison exposures are by non-pharmaceutical products such as cosmetics, cleaning substances, plants, pesticides, and art supplies, and 43 percent are by drugs and medications.

Most poisonings occur when parents are not paying close attention or watching children as closely as usual. Calls to poison control centers peak between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. In fact, because the hectic routine of getting dinner on the table causes so many lapses in parental attention, late afternoon has come to be known as "the arsenic hour" by poison center personnel.

What to do if a poisoning occurs

Call 911 right away, if your child has any of the following symptoms

Take or send the poison container with your child to help the physician determine what was swallowed. If your child does not have these symptoms, call your local poison control center or your child's physician. They will need the following information in order to help you:

Be prepared for a poisoning emergency by posting the poison center telephone number by every telephone in your home.

Child-resistant lids will now go on certain common household products:

In 2002, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to require safety caps on a variety of commonly used household products. The products, all oily hydrocarbon products, are thin and slippery and can easily suffocate children if the substances are drawn into their lungs when drinking them. The products can cause chemical pneumonia, by coating the inside of the lungs. Products that will be required to have a safety lid include:

Oil products that are thicker and more "syrupy" are not a problem, since they are not easily inhaled into the lungs.

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Online Resources of Non-Traumatic Emergencies

 

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