Kids and poisons don’t mix

Spc. Todd Goodman
LRMC Public Affairs

A child’s curiosity can help him learn about the world around him. Unfortunately, poisons are easily accessible to curious toddlers.

“Children act fast and so do poisons,” was the theme for this year’s National Poison Prevention Week, March 19 to Saturday. The goal for the week is to make people aware of the dangerous products within their children’s reach.

“The most commonly found poisons in the house are paint thinner, turpentine, and Clorox,” said Dan E. Kinnaird, chief of Ambulatory Care Pharmacy at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. “You should never put them in a glass or cup the way many people tend to do.”

Those may be the most common, but the most commonly ingested poison by children is iron. The vitamin, which helps clean the blood, can be fatal in large doses.

“It’s very irritating,” he said. “Too much iron can cause bleeding in the child’s stomach. There are all sorts of vitamins and iron supplements out there, so it’s easy for children to get their hands on them.”

That’s the problem. They get their hands on something. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the latest action figure or a cup of bleach – it’s going down the hatch.

“The main reason young kids are poisoned is because they are so curious,” said Mr. Kinnaird. “At that age they want to taste and smell anything they come into contact with.”

In a local effort to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning, LRMC’s pharmacy and Ramstein Air Base pharmacy encourage patients to return unused and outdated  medications to their local military pharmacy for proper disposal. The pharmacies also provide educational materials and posters on poison prevention to pre-school and 1st grade teachers in the KMC. A handout entitled “Poison Lookout Checklist,” which gives instructions on poison–proofing the kitchen, bathroom, garage and storage areas of the home, were sent home with each student.   

“We also put more adult-type posters that deal with street drugs in the middle and high schools,” said Mr. Kinnaird. “Posters with messages like,
‘The buzz that takes your breath away forever …. inhalants.’”

Although there are plenty of opportunities for kids to ingest toxic materials, accidental deaths have recently decreased significantly. Since 1972, poison-related deaths have gone down from 216 to 30 per year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Public awareness has helped, but nothing has done more to protect children than child-resistant packaging. Making it harder for children to eat hoards of aspirin has been a great help in the poison prevention cause.   

Aside from child-proofing everything, nothing takes the place of simply watching children. In poisoning cases, the phrase most often heard by the emergency room physician is, “I was only out of the room for a second.”  
In the event of an emergency, call 00800-444-88444 and tell poison control which type of poison was ingested.

For more information about poison prevention, call the LRMC Pharmacy at 486-7447 or 06371-86-7447.