Five Ways to Protect your Child from Household Poisons

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles toxicologist stresses how laundry
pods, e-cigarettes, energy drinks and prescription drugs can all look
harmless, even inviting, to curious kids

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to poison centers
across the United States, according to the American Association of
Poison Control Centers. Half of those calls involve children under 6
years old.


As part of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25, Children’s
Hospital Los Angeles
(CHLA) pediatric medical toxicologist Cyrus
Rangan
, M.D., assistant medical director of the California Poison
Control System, is stressing poison prevention in homes, where 80
percent of poison control calls originate. Dr. Rangan says CHLA alone
treated almost 100 cases of poison exposure in 2016, mostly related to
kids ingesting household items or unsecured medications. Different
poisons can trigger numerous severe reactions, from trouble breathing to
accelerated heart rate to blocked intestines and even affected mental
states.

Dr. Rangan tells parents and guardians to keep these tips in mind:

  1. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CHILDPROOF.
    More than 60,000
    U.S. children end up in emergency rooms each year after swallowing
    medication left within reach. Dr. Rangan says kids will break into
    tamper-resistant bottles given enough time, so parents should keep
    meds high and locked away “out of sight, out of reach, out of mind.”
    He also recommends not transferring pills to other containers,
    such as flip-top canisters labeled with days of the week. This makes
    it harder to identify what a child accidentally swallowed and how to
    treat it.
  2. DON’T CALL IT CANDY.
    Like sweets, pills and vitamins are
    colorful and sometimes sugarcoated (or even in “gummy” form). Dr.
    Rangan says it’s risky and confusing to trick kids into taking their
    medicine by pretending it’s candy. “Medicine is medicine, candy is
    candy,” he says. “Make sure we keep them separate not only in our
    homes but also in our minds.”
  3. NEW PRODUCTS, NEW POISONS.
    In the last few years, products
    like laundry/dishwasher detergent pods; e-cigarettes (and their
    cartridges); and energy drinks have all become popular. All contain
    highly concentrated chemicals – detergent, nicotine, caffeine – and
    are often scented or flavored. These are especially dangerous for
    younger kids. “We’ve seen very, very young children who swallow some
    of these and end up in the intensive care unit, have a change in their
    mental status and wind up on respirators,” says Dr. Rangan.
  4. TO KIDS, BLEACH LOOKS LIKE WATER, CLEANING POWDERS LOOKS LIKE
    CUPCAKE SPRINKLES

    “You may have a bottle that has a brownish
    liquid in it,” says Dr. Rangan. “If it’s in your refrigerator, it’s
    very likely to be apple juice. But if it’s in your garage, it’s likely
    to be a cleaner. Because they look the same and are sometimes in
    bottles that are very, very similar, a young child tends not be able
    to tell the difference.”
  5. 1-800-222-1222. EXPERTS ARE STANDING BY.
    Despite your best
    efforts, a child may still come in contact with a toxic substance. Dr.
    Rangan says to call 911 if the child stops breathing or responding.
    Otherwise, the national 24-hour Poison Control Hotline,
    1-800-222-1222, will connect you to certified specialists at your
    regional poison control center. Many are nurses and pharmacists,
    backed up by medical toxicologists like Dr. Rangan, who can help you
    determine whether to stay home or go to the ER.

The good news is doctors say treatments have come a long way in a few
decades for patients who are poisoned. While that has led to an overall
drop in poison-related deaths, accidental overdoses in children are
still rising. That’s why experts continue to underscore prevention and
supervision as the best line of defense.

“We don’t like treating children with poisonings. We like preventing
them from getting them in the first place,” Dr. Rangan says. “And as we
get into spring and summer months, and children are spending more time
at home… despite how much supervision we give them, children still are
very capable at finding substances and possibly causing a poisoning
emergency.”

Video Available:
– B-roll of poison control press conference
and hazardous substances: http://bit.ly/2mxOb8p

Sound bites with Dr. Cyrus Rangan: http://bit.ly/2mZMBs8

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s
hospital in California and among the top 10 in the nation for clinical
excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World
Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research
Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research
facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also one of
America’s premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation with the
Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since
1932. For more information, visit CHLA.org.
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Contacts

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Owen Lei, 323-361-8433
olei@chla.usc.edu