Poison Prevention

During the month of March, national emphasis is placed on poison prevention. Let’s first take a look at a poison that is invisible to us, yet potentially deadly.

Every year, 20,000 to 30,000 people in the U.S. become ill due to accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Approximately 500 of those affected die, many in their own home.

Silence isn’t always golden, especially when it comes to carbon monoxide. CO is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, stoves, grills, fireplaces, furnaces, etc. The fumes build up indoors and poison the people and animals who breathe in the noxious gas.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO poisoning symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO, you may pass out, which can be fatal.

It is critical that you have a CO detector in your home and, like your smoke detectors, change the batteries each year in the spring or fall when you change the time on your clocks. This is the most important way to keep you and your family safe. For more precautionary actions you can take, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Other harmful poisons are the everyday items found in most homes, such as household cleaners and medicines. Medication dosing mistakes and unsupervised ingestions are common ways that children are poisoned. It is up to us adults to ensure that these products are locked away and out of the reach of curious children.

Every day, over 300 children in the U.S. ages 0–19, are treated in an emergency department for ingesting harmful products and medications. Sadly, two out of these 300 children die as a result of this type of poisoning.

The CDC has common sense tips for preventing accidental poisonings in your home, as well as what to do in the case of such an emergency.

Next, let’s not forget protecting our furry family members. One of the most common forms of poisoning in our pets is from antifreeze, because they are attracted to its sweetness. For more about the visible symptoms and what to do in the event of accidental ingestion of antifreeze, click here:

Keep the Nationwide Poison Control Center phone number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every telephone in your home and on your cell phone. They can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Finally, if you have ever suffered from food poisoning, you know it is not pleasant. Common symptoms of foodborne diseases are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. However, symptoms may differ among the various types of foodborne diseases. In severe cases, foodborne illnesses can be life-threatening.

Although anyone can get a foodborne illness, some people are more likely to develop one. Those groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • People with immune systems weakened from receiving cancer treatment or from conditions such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS

Most people with a foodborne illness recover without medical treatment, but anyone with severe symptoms should see their doctor.

How can you prevent foodborne illness in your home? The CDC suggests you follow these four steps for ensuring food safety