First Aid for Families
Many household poisonings can be avoided by keeping all harmful substances away from infants and small children. Materials often ingested include over the counter medications, cosmetics, cleaning solutions, and vitamin supplements.
Ingestion of various substances results in different responses; some are subtle, others obvious. If you believe your child has ingested a poisonous material, call the Poison Control Center immediately for advice. The universal poison control telephone number in the United States is (800) 222-1222, and calls are routed to the local poison control center. It’s a good idea to keep this number (and other emergency numbers) clearly posted near your phone.
If your child shows more obvious signs of poison ingestion—including acting impaired (drowsy, unsteady gait, screaming with pain) or showing burns around the lips or mouth, stains of the substance around the child’s mouth, or the smell of a child’s breath—remain calm and call the poison control center. If you know what substance the child has swallowed, take the bottle or remaining solution with you to the phone when you call poison control. Check the labels of household chemicals for first-aid instructions also.
If the child shows signs of impairment from poisoning, you also need to call 911 immediately. Do not put a child with breathing problems in your car.
For many years, doctors recommended that families have syrup of ipecac in the home to induce vomiting in certain cases of poisoning; however, in November 2003 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement saying that ipecac is not proven to be efficacious and should no longer be used. It’s a good idea to speak with your family’s doctor regarding his or her stance on keeping the syrup in the home.
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