Hylton I Lightman MD DCH(SA) FAAP

Before defining poison, let’s make something clear: We assume poisonings are done accidentally.

Back to defining poison.

A poison is anything that can make you sick or kill you if you eat it, drink it, breath it, get it on your skin and get it in your eyes.

If someone has been potentially exposed to a poison and is awake and alert, help is available. Call the NYC Poison Center immediately at 800-222-1222, which is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Do this even if there are no symptoms of poisoning. In some cases, children poisoned accidentally or exposed to poison can be treated at home provided you call the NYC Poison Center.

Keep this number near your phone. Program it into your cell phones.

For ingested poisons, do NOT try to make the person throw up. Lie them down on their LEFT side.

If the person is unconscious, convulsing, having seizures or having trouble breathing, call Hatzlolah at 718-230-1000.

Poison prevention

Every home has poisonous products. Here are some pointers to make your house safer.

  • Baby and child proof your entire home.
  • Install safety latches on cabinets used for medicines and household products.
  • Keep away from children — smoking products like lighters, cigarettes, vape pens, vaping liquid and weed; alcohol drinks like beer, wine, liquor, whiskey; and all cleaning items. In addition, include bathroom items like mouth wash, body oil and lotion, nail polish and remover, make up, rubbing alcohol, perfume and cologne and more.
  • Keep things like batteries, remotes, magnets and magnet toys, button batteries and anything that uses small batteries away from small children.
  • Then there are other items – bug spray, weed killer, pool chemicals, fertilizer, antifreeze paint and paint thinners, and more.
  • Install a fire alarm in every sleeping area of your home.
  • In addition to installing a carbon monoxide alarm in every sleeping area of your home, also install one near the clothing dryer and the furnace.
  • Reclose medicines and other household products if interrupted during use. This is because many incidents happen while adults are using the products and become distracted.
  • Store medicines and products in their original containers. Ditto for household products.
  • Only use a marked measuring spoon to give medicine.
  • The pods used in washing machines are toxic. Bleach can cause scarring of the esophagus if ingested.
  • Melatonin overdosage is not to be ignored.
  • Excessive Tylenol use can cause long-term damage.
  • Be aware of lead contaminated paint in older homes.
  • Buy products in child-resistant packaging whenever possible. BUT please remember – child-resistant is NOT childproof. Child-resistant is designed to keep children away from the product for a short time before a parent notices.
  • Ask babysitters, visitors and other house guests to keep knapsacks, purses, briefcases or bags that may contain medicines and other poisons in high places, away and out of sight from your children.
  • Please do NOT tell your children that medicine is candy in order for them to take it.
  • Use medicines safely, meaning:
    1. Read the label before taking or giving medicine. Follow the instructions exactly.
    2. Discuss with your pediatrician herbal medicine and supplements BEFORE giving them to your children.
    3. Monitor children closely when you allow them to take their own medicines.
  • Discuss inhalant abuse when you discuss drug and alcohol abuse. FYI – Aerosol cans, air fresheners, gasoline, glue, hairspray, nitrous oxide, paint thinners and spray paint can kill or cause permanent damage, if abused.

Signs and symptoms of poisonings

This depends on how the poison got into or onto the body. There are also different signs and symptoms for different types of poisons. Common ones include:

  • Problems breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Seeming sleepy/drowsy
  • Skin redness, irritation, burning or itching
  • Having breath that smells like chemicals, like gasoline or pain thinner.

Again – Keep handy this number – 800-222-1222.

As always, daven.

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