Poisoning is a danger that most people are aware of in theory, though seldom does the everyday person fear that they might suffer poisoning because they do not believe they will be exposed to toxic substances. Yet poisonings do not happen only in factories, laboratories, and other places of industry and science. Actually, individuals are far more likely to be poisoned at home than anywhere else. Parents and pet owners, especially, must be knowledgeable about the potential danger of poisoning in their homes; otherwise, the kids or animals might get into something that will endanger their health and welfare.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that over 30,000 people die each year from poisoning. This number is even more significant when it is realized that more people die of an unintentional poisoning each year than are killed in car, motorcycle, and truck accidents. By far, most of these deaths are unintentional, and the majority of them would likely have been avoidable had the poisoned individuals and their families and friends known what to do in case of a poisoning. Also, hundreds of thousands of people visit the emergency room each year to seek treatment for an accidental poisoning. The latest year for which the Centers for Disease Control has statistics is 2006. Over 700,000 people visited an emergency room that year for help with a poisoning.
Though these statistics are alarming, preventing an accidental poisoning is not that difficult if proper precautions are taken. Many household cleaners and other chemicals such as antifreeze are toxic, but if they are kept in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children, then there is little to worry about in the way of home poisonings. Cleaning up any spills of such chemicals immediately would also lower the risk of injury to children, animals, and even adults. It is also important to follow the instructions on the label and always work with chemicals in well-ventilated areas if that is what the product calls for.
Administering the wrong doses of an otherwise helpful medicine can also lead to poisoning. Following prescriptions closely and consulting a doctor and pharmacy before use can prevent ingestion of toxic levels of medications. Moreover, food poisoning is also a danger, so everyone should avoid spoiled foods and know the signs that a food is toxic. Moldy and spoiled food, for example, should be discarded, and canned food must never be eaten if the can is swollen lest one ingest the deadly botulism bacteria.
There is much more that could be said about home poisonings and how to avoid and treat them. In sum, it is clear that the home is not as safe from such dangers as many expect it to be, so knowing these dangers and what to do in case of an emergency is vital for a family’s safety. The following resources will help readers better understand the risk of poisonings and learn how to respond when a poisoning is suspected.
Understanding the terrible statistics on poisoning will encourage anyone to learn more about the potential toxic traps in nearly every home. A variety of governmental agencies and education sites have great information on poisonous plants, food poisoning, common chemical dangers, and more.
• A to Z: Food Poisoning — Food Poisoning, its causes and treatments, is the subject of this site from the University of Pennsylvania.
• Common Poisons at Home and Work — Find good fact sheets on common home and work poisons on this page from the Carolina's Poison Control Center.
• Poisonous Plants — This page from the University of Vermont lists common poisonous plants found in North America.
• Poisoning in the United States — The CDC has put together this comprehensive fact sheet on poisoning in the United States.
Fortunately, home poisoning is one of the easiest dangers to avoid, especially when poisonous substances are stored properly, harmful chemicals are used correctly, and parents know what to keep out of the reach of children. There is no shortage of information on how to properly use and store chemicals, and parents will also appreciate tips on keeping their kids safe from toxic substances.
• Household Poisons — This list from the Minnesota Poison Control System indicates common household poisons that should be stored far away from where children can reach them.
• Locked Up Poisons — The US Consumer Product Safety Commission sponsors this resource on what kinds of chemicals should be kept under lock and key.
• Outdoor Poisons and Chemicals — The Home Safety Council hosts this list of common outdoor poisons and chemicals that must be kept away from kids.
• Poison Prevention — Fire Rescue Public Education from the City of Tampa has many tips for storing poisons properly and other safety tips.
• Poison Proof Your Home — The New York Department of Health has a list of tips for poison proofing one’s home, including safe storage tips.
• Winter Seasonal Tips — On this page, parents will find lots of information about poison dangers in the Winter and what can be done to keep kids away from them.
Using Poisons Safely
• Carolinas Poison Safety — This resource has safe storage tips for poison, cartoons on using poisons safely, and other informative tips.
• CDC: Poison Safety — The Centers for Disease Control has a list of tips on using different poisonous substances properly.
• Medication Safety — Learn how to avoid poisoning from medications using this page from the University of Connecticut Health Center.
• Safe Use & Storage of Hazardous Household Products — Cornell University is the source of this good page on storing and using household poisons safely.
• Ten Tips for a Poison-Safe Household — Pet owners will especially appreciate this page on the safe use of poisons with cats, but many of its principals are applicable to using poisons safely with children.
• Using Pesticides Safely — Find out how to use home pesticides safely with this extensive resource from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Children and Poisons
• Children and Poisons Act Fast — Here is an overview page on children and poisoning from Colorado State University.
• Children's Health: Poisons — Parents can learn how to prevent their children from getting poisoned and what to do if they suspect a poisoning has occurred on this page.
• Keep Your Home Safe from Poisons — This page developed by pediatricians is devoted to child safety and poisons in the home.
• Most Dangerous Poisons for Children — The National Capital Poison Center has put together this list of the most dangerous poisons for children.
• Poison Prevention for Kids — This is a great site designed for kids that contains activities to help them learn about poisonous substances around the home.
• Poison Prevention Tips — Cincinnati Children’s Hospital offers good advice to parents to help prevent poisoning in children and pets.
In case of a poisoning emergency that appears to be life threatening, the emergency room is always the first recourse for help. For poisonings that do not appear to be deadly or are not affecting an individual’s health very rapidly, there are poison control centers all over the United States. These centers can recommend what people should do in specific poisoning instances. It is important to follow their recommendations carefully, and to know the basic ways to respond to a poisoning through basic first aid.
Poison Control Center
• American Association of Poison Control Centers — On this site, users can find the poison control center closest to them, and other information about poison control centers in the United States.
• Animal Poison Control Center — Pets can be poisoned at home just as easily as people, and the ASPCA provides this resource to help pet owners keep their pets from being poisoned and treat them if poisoning is suspected.
• Poison Control Center Emergency Number — The University of Maryland gives the national 800 number for poison emergencies and some other basic information about poison control centers.
• State and Regional Poison Control Centers — Quick links to the phone numbers and addresses of U.S. poison control centers can be found on this site.
• World Directory of Poisons Centres — The World Health Organization provides a comprehensive listing of poison control centers worldwide on this page.
• Family Doctor: Food Poisoning — What to do in case of food poisoning is just some of the information on this subject found on this page from the American Academy of Family Physicians.
• First Aid for Poisoning — A brief overview on how to respond to a poisoning can be found on this page from the University of Oklahoma Police Department.
• First Aid: Poisons — This is actually a government-sponsored page from Australia that helps kids understand what to do if they or someone they know has been poisoned.
• Medline Plus: Poisoning First Aid — Here is a good site on poisoning first aid from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
• Poisoning: First Aid — On this site, the Mayo Clinic provides some basic, helpful tips on what to do in case of a poisoning.
• Symptoms and First Aid for Poisoning — Learn to recognize and address the symptoms of poisoning on this page.