Kids Still Getting PoisonedMar 20, 2014
Even though most parents think they’re taking adequate precautions, every year 60,000 children end up in the emergency room because of poisoning. Sherrie Pace from the Utah Poison Control Center talks about why that number is still so high and what you can do as a parent to prevent your child against an accidental poisoning.
Interviewer: Even though we take precautions to protect our kids from being poisoned by medications or vitamins in the home, every year 60,000 of them end up in the emergency department because they got into them anyway. That's next on The Scope.
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Interviewer: Protecting your kids against accidental poisoning, that's what we're talking about today, and some of the scenarios that exist every day in our homes that might put our children at risk. I'm visiting with Sherrie Pace who's a health educator at the Utah Poison Control Center. Sherrie, what are some of the scenarios that are everyday things that might increase the risk of a child being poisoned by medications or vitamins?
Sherrie Pace: Okay. Let's say grandma comes to visit. She's got her great big handbag that kids love to look in and thumb through and see what great things they can find in there. Inside of her purse is a pill minder or a bottle of pills that she takes maybe for heart disease or diabetes, something that could be very, very harmful. As a toddler is rummaging through grandma's purse they could come upon this and get into it.
Interviewer: Those pill minders aren't necessarily childproof, are they?
Sherrie Pace: Correct. There are a few out there on the market that are child resistant, but the fact is most of them aren't, and a lot of times people won't use them because they're a little bit more difficult to get into for people who have arthritis and things like that that would make it difficult for them to get into something like that. Yeah, they're very available and accessible.
Interviewer: Parents who even do a good job of keeping their own medications and vitamins away from their kids by keeping them in those childproof containers or up in the cupboard, those kids might be vulnerable from this visitor that's coming who has this pill minder.
Sherrie Pace: Exactly. The same goes for if you go to visit somebody. If you're taking your family to go visit, say, grandma or whatever, they may have medications on the counter. They're not used to having the children around. They're not used to keeping things up and away. It can happen really fast.
Interviewer: What are some tools out there for families to use to educate themselves and also their children about how to prevent these accidental poisonings?
Sherrie Pace: Good question. There is a wonderful program by the C.D.C. called "Up and Away and Out of Sight". This focuses on medication and vitamin safety, keeping these things away from children, keeping children from getting poisoned by these things.
Interviewer: How do parents access this?
Sherrie Pace: There's a great website. It's www.upandaway.org. They can go on there and there's great information and resources for parents. There's a fun coloring book you can download and use to teach your children in a fun way. There are tips for grandparents. You can share this information with a grandparent and let them know the dangers. There's an information sheet about travelling, what you do when you're away from your house to keep kids safe.
Interviewer: This is something you might share. Let's say you're taking the kids to go visit grandma and grandpa. You might talk to grandma and grandpa beforehand, and let them know that you're coming and you're concerned about their medications being out, and make sure that we do some things to keep those away from the kids.
Sherrie Pace: Absolutely. Prevention is where it's at.
Interviewer: You mentioned coloring books. What other kinds of things are on there that parents could use, download, or show their kids to educate them? It's not always just a matter of keeping the medicines away. Isn't it helping the kids understand what to and what not to put in their mouths?
Sherrie Pace: True. That is one of the tips that's listed on this website. Teach the kids about medicine safety. Tell them why we have to use medicine. Explain to them that adults need to be in charge of medicine, the kids aren't in charge of giving themselves medicine and those types of things. There are also some great tips. Even the name of this program, Up and Away and Out of Sight, talks about a couple of the tips. One of them is to place the vitamins and medicine out of reach of the children. Find a storage place that's high up, too high for a child to get to. Also, make sure there's the safety caps on it. They're child resistant. They're not childproof, but they are child resistant and they can slow a child down. That's one more way to prevent poisonings. Also, put medicines away every time. If you have a sick child and every three hours you have to give them medicine, it's tempting to leave that medicine sitting out there for the next dosage. The fact is it needs to be put away every single time. Also, be careful when guests come over whether it's grandma, whether it's aunts or uncles, whoever that may not have their medicine secured. And, keep the poison control number with you all the time. We recommend programming that into your cell phone. The number is 1-800-222-1222. If you have it in your phone you always have it with you.
Interviewer: That's accessible nationwide.
Sherrie Pace: Absolutely. Yes, no matter where you are in the nation you'll be routed to the nearest poison control center. Even if you're on vacation you've got it right there in your cell phone ready to use if something were to happen.
Interviewer: Based on your experience working with Utah Poison Control Center, what's the one thing that parents can do to protect their kids from an accidental poisoning with medication?
Sherrie Pace: I would say the number one thing that could be done is for parents to keep them up and away, and out of sight, and out of reach. That's the number one thing they can do.
Interviewer: The name of the program and the website, upandaway.org.
Sherrie Pace: Yeah, and that is exactly right.
Interviewer: Great. Any parting thoughts, any final thoughts about this topic?
Sherrie Pace: We want people to know that things can happen. Certainly prevention is important, but if someone is poisoned please call us at Poison Control. We're available 24/7 to help. It's free, it's confidential. We have experts waiting there on the phone for you to call if you need us.
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