A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Poison prevention no longer includes ipecac

Did you know? More young children now visit U.S. emergency rooms for drug poisoning than for car crashes. - Household poisoning and prevention tipsIbuprofen looks like medication. It does, if you’re an adult.

Look again and imagine what your child sees: bright, red and round. It looks a lot like candy, doesn’t it?

The same goes for apple juice-colored cleaning products and yummy-smelling air fresheners.

“Anything brightly colored and shiny can appear edible to children,” said Brenda Banaszynski, M.D., a Marshfield Clinic family medicine physician.

3 steps to prevent poisoning accidents:

  1. Keep all potentially hazardous items in properly labeled original containers. Replace caps tightly after each use.
  2. Take medicines when children aren’t looking. (Children naturally want to imitate adults.)
  3. Keep all medicine in a locked container out of reach and sight of children.

What to do after poisoning

  • If your child is not breathing, call 911.
  • If your child shows signs of poisoning call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

Just call even if you think it’s something stupid,” Banaszynski said. “Poison Control is your best resource and can help you determine next steps.”

While dialing Poison Control or when you’re on the phone, take these “Act Fast” steps:

  • Poison was inhaled: Take your child to fresh air.
  • Poison is on the skin: Take off clothing and rinse skin with running water.
  • Poison is in the eyes: Rinse eyes with running water.

No more ipecac

Long gone are the days when you needed ipecac handy. The syrup was used to induce vomiting in children who ingested poison. Doctors no longer recommend this treatment.

Poison Control provides reasons ipecac use was phased out:

  • Little research shows people are helped any more by using it.
  • Ipecac can be dangerous to people with certain medical problems.
  • Too many people with eating disorders use ipecac to induce vomiting.
  • After using ipecac, some people are unable to keep down other drugs used to treat poisoning.

Prevent poisoning

Poison Control provides numerous free posters and brochures to help families recognize potential poison hazards.

“Parents can also try Mr. Yuk stickers or come up with something similar,” Banaszynski said. “A visual cue can help pre-school aged children or older understand when something is not meant for play or food.”

Keep chemicals, medications and other poisonous products out-of-reach and locked.

Household poisoning and prevention tips

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