Accidental Poisoning…

24th December 2011

Tis the season for celebrations – family visiting, Christmas drinks, decorating the house and general merriment. It’s a time when we relax and the children run a little freer perhaps.

It is also the season when we see an increase in accidental poisonings in children. A poison is a substance, or a mixture of substances, that is harmful to the body, and can make a person ill. The poison may have been swallowed, inhaled or splashed on the skin or eyes.

Almost anything can be a poison – even excessive water – but most poisonings in the home are due to:

  • Medications, e.g. painkiller syrups, vitamins, Granny’s heart pills
  • Household products, e.g. bleach, dishwasher tablets, drain un-blocker
  • Cosmetics, e.g. mouth wash, shampoo, nail varnish remover
  • Alcohol
  • Plants, indoor and outdoor eg yew, holly, ivy etc

How can you help prevent poisoning

Keep potential poisons in their original containers, out of sight and out of reach of children – preferably in a locked cupboard.

Be especially vigilant when visiting family and friends, whose homes may not be as ‘childproof’ as your own.

What to do if you suspect your child has been poisoned?
(1) Remain calm and protect your own skin etc. with plastic gloves.
(2) Try to find out what, how much, what time and what else has been taken? Keep the rest of the substance in a plastic box to give to the doctors.
(3) Phone the Poisoning Emergency line.

Poisoning Emergency (Switzerland) 145
Poisoning Emergency (France, Lyon) 047 211 69 11

(4) Stay with your child and watch them carefully. They may vomit so keep a bowl nearby. If they become drowsy or unconscious, assess their Airway, Breathing and Circulation then put them in the recovery position. If they stop breathing – start CPR and call 144.

From all the team at HealthFirst, we wish you a very Happy and Healthy Christmas!

What not to do

Do not make the child vomit. If they spontaneously vomit, give a sample to the doctors.

Do not give them an antidote or anything to eat or drink unless specifically advised by the poisoning emergency line or emergency services.

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