Every 30 seconds a child is poisoned in the United States. Sixty percent of all poisonings occur to children under the age of six. A poisoning may or may not be obvious. Sometimes the source of poisoning can be easily identified. For instance, an open bottle of medication or a spilled household cleaner. The most common products involved in poisonings are drugs (prescription and over-the-counter), household and chemical products, plants and cosmetics.
If you think someone has been poisoned, act fast! Symptoms of poisoning include the sudden onset of unconsciousness, seizures, confusion or illness when access to poisons, drugs, cleaning fluids or other chemicals is possible. Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 which routes your call to the nearest poison control center available.
Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by the poison control center or medical personnel. Do not induce vomiting if the victim is unconscious or is having convulsions.
If you believe someone has been poisoned, take the following steps:
Stay calm. Not all medicines and household chemicals are poisonous and not all exposures necessarily poison your child. Some products have instructions on the label specifying what to do if a poisoning occurs. If the product suspected to be the poison has instructions, follow them. For medicines and household products, first call the poison control center, doctor or 911. Remember to keep emergency numbers near the phone before a crisis. When you contact the poison control center or other emergency personnel, give the facts (described below) to the expert. Have any products or labels ready when you call. The label gives information about the product's contents and advice on first aid.
Tell the poison control expert:
- The victim's age.
- The victim's weight.
- Existing health conditions or problems.
- The substance involved and how it contacted the child. For example, was it swallowed, inhaled, absorbed through skin contact or splashed into the eyes?
- Any first aid that may have been given.
- If the victim has vomited.
- Your location and how long it will take you to get to the hospital.
Certain poisons should be vomited, others should not. If you do not know the identity of the substance swallowed, do not induce vomiting. You should not induce vomiting unless directed to by a poison control authority or your physician. Do not give anything by mouth unless advised by the poison control center. Use syrup of ipecac only on advice of the poison control center or a physician. And remember, child resistant caps are not CHILD PROOF.