(ARA) - To a toddler, Motrin tablets can look a lot like orange M&M's. While many parents are aware that they need to keep cleaning solutions and pesticides locked up and away from young children, they often do not realize the danger posed by the common adult medications they have around the house.
Of the more than 2 million accidental poisonings reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers every year, more than 1 million of these involved children under five. Of these exposures, one in three involved a medication; more than four times the number of poison exposures from household cleaning solutions.
In the past decade, the number of medications available to consumers has risen by almost 500 percent, with most home medicine cabinets filled with a dazzling array of products including vitamins, herbal supplements, prescription medicines, aspirin and cough syrup. With all this medicine around, it's no wonder there is a greater likelihood that a child may misuse it.
Another contributing factor is the Graying of America. Seniors are much more active than they ever have been, and spend a great deal of time with their grandchildren, often having them stay for extended visits. Many of the medications taken by older adults are the most dangerous for children, and seniors may not be in the habit of storing away their medications and can be caught off guard by curious, active grandchildren.
Unfortunately, children's small, growing bodies are more susceptible to toxins. Their systems cannot process the levels of medication found in adult strength medications. Common products such as iron supplements and medications for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are extremely unsafe if ingested by children.
The experts suggest parents and grandparents take the following precautions to prevent accidental poisonings in the home:
The time to take precautions is now, before something happens. Make sure you are prepared for whatever the children in your life get into.
- Be prepared. Since poison remedies in the home can dramatically decrease the time between ingestion and treatment, it is important that every home have both syrup of ipecac and activated charcoal on hand for treating accidental poisonings. The Little Remedies Treatment Kit contains both remedies for easy in-home use. However, it is very important that parents never administer any treatment without first calling the nearest poison control center or hospital emergency department for assistance.
Syrup of ipecac is needed for instances when it is recommended to quickly induce vomiting to remove the ingested poison from the child's stomach, such as vitamins or large pills that take time to break down. However, in cases where vomiting may cause further damage to the esophagus, activated charcoal is recommended as the preferred treatment to adsorb liquid toxins a child has swallowed.
- Store all medications and hazardous chemicals in labeled, child-resistant containers out of the sight and reach of children and away from food products. Be very careful of handbags and suitcases.
- Clean out your medicine cabinet on a regular basis. Adult-strength iron preparations, vitamins and supplements and even aspirin can be dangerous for children.
- Stay alert. Children often think that medicines look like candy. Never refer to medicine as candy when trying to get a child to swallow it.
- Never take medicine in front of a child. They may imitate you.
- Children will swallow just about anything. When in doubt, assume the worst. Never think a child could not have eaten something because it tastes bad to you. Children often eat things that are unpalatable to adults.
- Post the following nationwide number conspicuously by every phone in your home: (800) 222-1222. This number will connect you to the nearest poison control center.
For a free brochure on accidental poisoning, or more information and the nearest location for the Little Remedies Poison Treatment Kit, call (800) 7-Little or visit www.littleremedies.com.