TEMECULA – Any family can experience a poisoning situation, but people who live in homes with very young children or the elderly need to educate themselves about the various poisonous substances lurking in plain sight and what to do if these substances are ingested.
Although cleaning products or chemicals stored in the garage may be the most commonly thought of household poisons, many other seemingly mundane items also can be poisonous when ingested in large quantities. The National Capital Poison Center said common household items can poison children, including laundry products, pain medicine, vitamins, antihistamines, pesticides and cleaning substances.
The NCPC said the most common poisons for adults include prescription drugs, alcohol, pain medications and cleaning substances.
People may not realize the hidden ingredients in products they use every day. Swallowing a large quantity of mouthwash containing alcohol can poison a child. Vitamins children mistakenly think are candy can be dangerous as well. Artificial nail products also can be poisonous.
If poisoning is suspected, time is of the essence, as is taking the correct steps.
First, if the person is unconscious, not breathing or having convulsions, the first step is to call the local emergency responders or dial 911 immediately.
Remain calm and assess the situation if the person is responsive. Try to identify the poison by looking for open containers or the items that may have been swallowed or touched.
The Mayo Clinic said poisoning signs and symptoms can include burns or redness around the mouth and lips, breath that smells like chemicals, vomiting, drowsiness, confusion and difficulty breathing.
Remove any pills or the substance away from the person, and check their mouth for any remaining pills.
Do not immediately induce vomiting, which may do more damage.
Consult with poisoning professionals. In the United States, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at (800) 222-1222. In Canada, call the provincial or regional poison control center, such as the Ontario Poison Centre, at (800) 268-9017.
Be ready to describe the person’s symptoms, age, weight and medications and share any information about what has been ingested. The person on the line may give specific instructions to follow or recommend contacting emergency personnel.
While waiting for help to arrive, follow poison instructions on product labels. Depending on the substance that was ingested, it may include flushing the skin, offering water or another fluid, flushing the eyes or moving the person into fresh air. Avoid activated charcoal or syrup of ipecac. Poison centers rarely encourage self-care in poisoning incidents.
Unintentional poisonings account for hundreds of hospital visits and many deaths per year. Knowing how to respond to and treat a poisoning emergency can save lives.