Observance week highlights poison prevention

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

National Poison Prevention Week takes place Sunday to March 27 and focuses on the importance of keeping dangerous products out of children’s reach.
“The most commonly found poisons in the house are paint thinner, turpentine and bleach,” said Dan Kinnaird, chief of Ambulatory Care Pharmacy at LRMC. “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 mineral, 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. When they get their hands on something, many times it gets swallowed.
“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.”
To help combat this problem, the LRMC Pharmacy, in conjunction with the Ramstein Pharmacy, distributed poison prevention posters and information packets to area schools, in hopes that young children will get the message.
The posters were designed by a Walt Disney artist, in such a way that youngsters, no matter what their reading level, will understand the meaning. The posters feature children eating paint chips or looking for something to drink under the kitchen sink – where the drain cleaner resides.
Also, presentations showing kids what not to do when they encounter poisons will be given at area daycare centers.
Rounding out the poison prevention campaign will be the Boy Scouts of America, Troop 156 Ramstein.
The scouts will go to Landstuhl and Ramstein housing districts, collect expired and unused medications and properly dispose of them. Unused medication helps create a dangerous environment for small children, said Mr. Kinnaird.
Although there are plenty of opportunities for kids to ingest toxic materials, accidental deaths have decreased significantly.
Since 1972, poison-related deaths have gone down from 216 a year 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 the children.
In the event of an emergency, call 06371-86-8160 and tell poison control which type of poison was ingested.
For more information about poison prevention, call 486-7747 or 06371-86-7747.