Poison Prevention Can Help Keep Families Safe

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Published Online: Friday, February 16th, 2018
Pharmacists can play an important role in educating families about poison prevention. I recently had the opportunity to speak with parents in my community about poison-proofing strategies for the home. This was an informal discussion regarding poison prevention and medication safety, and a poison prevention checklist was distributed to all families that attended the program.1 The audience found the discussion to be useful and great questions were raised. 

Poison prevention will be an ongoing program in our community, and it is very rewarding to provide this important information to families through a pharmacist’s perspective. The program was promoted through an email blast and on Facebook. Social media is a great way to promote poison prevention events and provide education. After the presentation, I posted a poison safety checklist on the community Facebook page. 

During the presentation, we discussed the following 16 poison prevention tips:
  1. Make sure all medications and hazardous substances are stored locked away on high shelves.
  2. Parents should periodically survey the floor to ensure that there are no medications or other hazardous substances that children can accidentally ingest.
  3. Place all batteries and magnets out of reach of children, as these can cause internal organ damage if ingested.
  4. Medications that are expired or not being used anymore should be disposed of properly at a drug disposal program or by mixing with dirt, cat litter, or coffee grounds and placing in the household trash. Certain controlled substance medications can also be flushed to prevent abuse and accidental poisoning.2
  5. Child-resistant safety caps should be used for all medications.
  6. Safety locks (e.g. latches or magnetic locks) should be used for storing medications.
  7. The poison prevention number 1-800-222-1222 should be placed in all caregiver cell phones.  This is a free resource available 24/7 with trained healthcare professionals to assist with poisoning emergencies.
  8. Parents should avoid using single-load laundry detergent packets such as Tide pods due to the risk of accidental and intentional ingestion. From January 1, 2018 to January 31, 2018, there have been 606 accidental ingestions among children 5 years of age and younger.3 There is also now a recent trend involving intentional ingestion of Tide pods among teens.
  9. Parents should read the labels on all over-the-counter and prescription products carefully before administering them to children.
  10. Cleaning products should always be stored in their original containers.
  11. It is important to teach children to always ask an adult before putting anything into their mouths.
  12. Medication should not be referred to as “candy.”
  13. Ensure that medications and cleaning supplies are stored out of reach of children at grandparents’ houses. 
  14. Remember that the garage may contain harmful substances such as car and garden products, gasoline, and pool supplies.  Placing a safety lock on the garage door can help to prevent accidental poisonings.
  15. Ensure that at house parties purses are stored out of reach of children as they may contain medications.
  16. Always have lights on when taking or administering medications to prevent errors.
References
  1. Florida’s Poison Control Centers.  Poison patrol checklist.  http://floridapoisoncontrol.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Poison-Patrol-Checklist-03-2017.pdf.  Accessed February 13, 2018.
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Disposal of unused medicines:  what you should know.  https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/SafeDisposalofMedicines/ucm186187.htm.  Accessed February 13, 2018.
  3. American Association of Poison Control Centers.  Laundry detergent packets and children.  http://www.aapcc.org/alerts/laundry-detergent-packets/.  Accessed February 13, 2018.


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