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SmartHealthToday: Youngsters not the only ones at risk of accidental home poisonings, so take precautions

By Shelly Reese

Poisoning is the No. 1 cause of injury-related death in the United States.

“It’s not just little ones that are in danger it’s adults as well,” notes Dr. John LaCount, a pediatrician with St. Elizabeth Physicians’ Florence office.

How severe is the problem?

In 2015 Americans called a poison control center 2.2 million times about people exposed to dangerous or potentially dangerous substances, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).

Of those exposures, only about half involved children under the age of six. What’s more, while the overall number of exposures has decreased slightly, the number of cases with serious clinical outcomes has increased by more than four percent per year since 2000.

 What can you do to decrease the risk?

Be prepared

Program the Poison Help number, 1 (800) 222-1222 into your phone and display it in your home and at work in case of emergency.

Practice safe storage

Keep medications, tobacco and e-cigarettes, alcohol, laundry and cleaning supplies, pesticides, button batteries, oils, lubricants, chemicals and personal care products (especially contact lens disinfectants and hand sanitizers) stored up, away, and out of sight of children, and in their original containers.

Alternatively, keep these substances in cabinets secured with child-resistant locks. In 2015 nearly six out of 10 calls to poison control centers regarding  human exposures involved medication or pharmaceuticals. Of those calls more than 11 percent involved pain relievers.

Safely discard outdated medications

“You can’t just hold on to outdated pain pills and antibiotics,” says Dr. La Count, because the chemical bonds in expired medications may change over time as a result, causing a person to have an adverse reaction.

In 2015, roughly 57 percent of all exposure cases involved pharmaceuticals.

Read and follow directions

Make a habit of reviewing the label on any potentially hazardous substance or product prior to use, especially before administering medications. Take care to follow not only usage directions, but the directions provided for safe storage and disposal as well.

For more poison prevention safety tips, please visit www.aapcc.org

SmartHealthToday is a service of St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

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