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March 12, 2008 > Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Poison Prevention

Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Poison Prevention

Common Household Items Pose Serious Health Risks

Common household items like prescribed medicines and cleaning solutions have the potential to hurt or even kill you or your loved ones. These items can be extremely dangerous if not used properly or get into the wrong hands. But there are steps you can take to prevent accidental poisonings.
"It's important to read labels and keep children away from medicines, cleaning supplies, and other potentially dangerous chemicals," says Dr. Thomas Luck, an allergist and immunologist with Washington Township Medical Group.
Dr. Luck will be sharing useful tips to prevent poisonings at an upcoming Washington Hospital Health & Wellness seminar titled: "Poison Prevention Awareness" on Tuesday, March 18, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D., Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register for the seminar, call (800) 963-7070.
Dr. Luck will talk about some of the common household dangers and ways you can protect yourself and your family. He will also explain what to do if there is an accidental poisoning.
A poison is any substance that is harmful to your body when eaten, inhaled, or injected through the skin. Almost any substance can be poisonous if you take enough of it. Nearly 20,000 deaths occur in the U.S. each year from unintentional poisonings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Believe it or not, a large number of poisonings come from commonly used painkillers aspirin and acetaminophen, according to Dr. Luck. They can be poisonous when taken in large doses.
"Aspirin can be very toxic to the central nervous system," he said. "It can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness and ringing in the ears."
Cough syrups are another widespread source, especially among children. Small children can drink enough to cause alcohol poisoning.
"An adult dose of medication can be particularly dangerous for small children," Dr. Luck said. "Children can also mistake pills for candy and eat them."
Medications also pose a danger for grownups. Adults can poison themselves with their own medications by not taking them properly.
Dr. Luck will also talk about other common sources of poisoning, including cleaning solutions, pesticides, lead, mercury and carbon monoxide. Lead was in the news recently after a number of toys imported from China were found to contain lead-based paints.
"Children put these toys in their mouths and can absorb a significant amount of lead," Dr. Luck said. "Lead is highly toxic substance that can damage the central nervous system."
He will talk about the health risks associated with these substances and steps you can take to prevent accidental poisonings, including the following.
Read labels. Whether you are dealing with medications, cleaning supplies, or pesticides, always read the label. Learn about the risks and follow directions carefully, including the expiration date. Safely dispose of all outdated medications and chemicals.
Use the original containers. Never put medications, cleaning solutions or pesticides in different containers. That way it can't be mistaken for something else. Also, the original warning label stays with the product and children won't confuse it with candy, soda or juice.
Take precautions. When using pesticides, cleaning solutions, and other chemicals, wear protective clothing and avoid breathing in the fumes. Turn on a fan or open a window. Never mix household products together.
Keep children safe. Keep medicines, household cleaning supplies, and pesticides away from children. Put chemicals in a childproof cupboard or closet and lock the medicine cabinet. Never call medicine candy and turn on a light when preparing doses for children to make sure you are giving the correct amount.
Post the poison hotline. If you do have a poison emergency, call the poison hotline at (800) 222-1222. Keep the number posted where it can easily be found.

To learn more about poison prevention, register for the Poison Prevention Awareness seminar by calling the toll-free Health Connection line (800) 963-7070 or register online at www.whhs.com. National Poison Prevention Week (March 16 - 22) is a week nationally designated to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. For more information, visit www.poisonprevention.org.

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