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Deaths caused by accidental injuries have decreased over 50 percent since the 1980s. However, since the 1990s, deaths caused by accidental poisonings have doubled. Following a few simple safety steps can help prevent accidental poisonings.
If a poisoning does happen, call the North Texas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 (add this number to your cell phone right now). Calls are answered by nurses and pharmacists and 80 percent of them are handled at home, without going to the Emergency Room. Call 9-1-1 if your child won't wake up, is having trouble breathing or is having seizures.
Take a tour of your home, inside and out and look for the dangers we've outlined below. The little time it takes to do this can help to prevent a lifetime of tragedy as the result of a poisoning accident.
To a child, the colors and shapes of pills may not look harmful, instead, they may look more like candy treats. The same goes for liquid medications. And it doesn't take much medication in a small body to cause a bad and sometimes tragic reaction. That's why it's so important to store cold medications, prescription drugs, over-the-counter pain medicine (especially those made for children because they are flavored and colored to help make it easier to dose children), and even vitamins up high in a locked or child-proofed cabinet.
It's also critical to follow directions when giving medicine to your child. Double dosing will NOT be twice as effective, and in some instances can cause an emergency reaction. Heed the warnings and follow package or physician directions.
If you have unused or expired medications in your home, it's important to remove them. However, don't just throw them away or flush them down the sink or toilet. For safety reasons, they need to be properly disposed of. Please call 817-392-1234 or visit www.FortWorthTexas.Gov/solidwaste/medicalwaste for information on the proper way to dispose of medications or to find an area drop-off location.
There are many household products found both in and outside of the home the home that can pose risk to little ones. Before a small child is able to read, they associate things by vision. A brightly colored plastic bottle may look like the juice from the refrigerator instead of soap or antifreeze. Colorful liquids may appear to them to be a soft drink or sport drink instead of a household cleaner. And because little fingers go into mouths, noses, and ears, just touching the residue on household chemical containers can be harmful. Also, be sure to check the bathroom and dressing areas of your home. Toothpaste, soaps, liquids like body wash, perfumes, lotions, mouthwash, etc., look pretty, but contain ingredients that can be hurtful when swallowed by tots.
Kids will put just about anything in their mouths, like bubble solution, clays, paints, crayons, etc. Be sure to read labels, follow manufacturers age recommendations and, when it doubt, keep these items up on higher shelves, out of reach of curious hands.
Did you know that close to 600 children came to Cook Children's for accidental poisonings last year – 79 percent of which were medicine related? What steps can you take to make sure that doesn't happen at your home?
Cook Children's and Safe Kids Tarrant County are involved in a community collaborative project to fund a pilot project that provides permanent drug drop boxes in three police stations in Fort Worth. They are located in areas with a high density of drug overdose and poisoning incidents:
You may take your over-the-counter or prescription medications, vitamins, veterinary meds (with the exception of needles, syringes, IV bags), drop them in the box and know that they will be destroyed in an environmentally friendly method. We hope that this becomes the new normal behavior for all of us, especially families, grandparents and other caregivers. Communities that have these drop boxes have seen their accidental overdoses and poisonings go down dramatically over time and that is our hope for Fort Worth.
For more information, please contact Dana Walraven, Safe Kids Tarrant County coordinator at 682-885-1619 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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