About 90% of all poisonings happen in the home. Below are some poison prevention tips for you and your family. Remember, poison center specialists are available 24 hours a day at 1-800-222-1222 to provide free treatment advice.
Calls about medication make up a large percentage of calls to poison control centers. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medicine, including dietary supplements and herbal products, like bush teas.
While we think of medicine as something that helps us, medication can be dangerous if used incorrectly, taken by the wrong person, or if the wrong amount is taken.
Sometimes children will get into a parent’s or grandparent’s medication, but many calls often are in regard to an adult who has double-dosed, or taken the wrong medication entirely. Poison control can handle calls about any type of medication mistake or concern, including those about herbal or dietary supplements.
A common cause of medication poisoning occurs from dosing errors:
General Medication Safety Tips:
Tips for Giving Children Medicine:
Tips for Older Adults:
Many herbal products and supplements have serious interactions with prescription medications. Dietary supplements and herbal products, including bush teas, are NOT FDA approved for safety or verified for effectiveness.
Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone or safe at all doses. Consult your healthcare provider before taking herbal products, supplements, medicinal “bush” teas, or tinctures. Some herbal plants have medicinal effects and can be dangerous when mixed with prescription medication. It’s important to check with your healthcare provider before drinking bush tea while taking prescription medication.
Use extreme caution in giving bush tea to children, as dosing can be inconsistent and can lead to severe poisoning.
Common household cleaning products and personal care products can be hazardous. Children are often attracted to the bright colors, interesting containers, and fruity scent of household products.
Common household products include:
Common cosmetics and personal care products include:
Tips to prevent household product and personal care product poisoning:
If someone accidentally ingests household cleaners or personal care products:
Opioids are the single most common drug class involved in fatal poisonings. These drugs, also known as painkillers, impact the brain and lead to a feeling of intense pleasure.
Drugs that are classified as opioids include the prescription medications:
The illegal drug heroin is the most famous derivative of opium, but all of these drugs have the potential to cause overdose and addiction. Opioid addiction can develop very quickly, even with short-term use.
There are some opioids that are used to treat substance use disorder that are also potentially harmful if the dosage is wrong or if they’re ingested by a child. These include buprenorphine and methadone.
Signs of an opioid overdose include:
Consuming opioids with alcohol or combining with street drugs and even some prescription medications (such as muscle relaxers) can increase the risk of serious poisoning and death.
Some other dangerous, commonly used drugs of abuse include:
If you suspect an overdose and cannot wake the person, call 911. If the person can respond and can explain what happened, call poison control for immediate assessment and advice. If you have access to naloxone, the antidote to an opioid overdose, poison control can help walk you through administering it while you wait for rescue.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that can kill a person in minutes. It is produced wherever fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned, such as found in a fire, car exhaust or running gasoline or oil burning equipment exhaust.
Carbon monoxide is among the leading causes of non-drug poisoning death in the United States. Early (within minutes to hours) symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic the flu, and include:
Carbon monoxide poisoning may rapidly lead to unconsciousness and death.
Carbon monoxide gas can be especially dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies, infants, people with anemia, and a history of heart disease. After a hurricane, many fatal poisonings are due to carbon monoxide, as many people use gas-powered generators to power their home in an outage.
Here are some important generator safety tips:
Food “poisoning” (aka foodborne illness) occurs when food is contaminated by bacteria, parasites, or viruses or toxins produced by them. It affects millions of Americans; about 1 in 6 each year.
Pregnant women, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems should take extra precautions to avoid food poisoning.
Symptoms of food poisoning range from mild to severe, and can include:
Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning: