Preventing accidental poisoning

Mr Yuk poison controlPosted on April 27, 2012
Adapted from FCHP's publication, Wellness Works

Do you remember Mr. Yuk? He was the face of poison safety education when I was growing up. Created by the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, his bright green, “yucky face” and the poison control center’s phone number were on stickers that teachers gave us to bring home and put on anything toxic in the house.

Unfortunately, the Mr. Yuk campaign had some adverse effects. Research showed that kids were attracted to the stickers, which was not the intention. I remember trying to scratch and sniff Mr. Yuk, as if he was just another sticker in my collection. (Yes, I was a child of the 80s.)

Not just for kids

Most poisonings occur in children under the age of six. However, older adults, pre-teens and even pets are at risk too. And not just for poisoning from household products, but by other elements in our everyday environment. 

Below are some general tips to help prevent poisoning for people and pets of all ages:

  • Before you repaint your house, do you know if there is lead paint lurking beneath the surface that could be harmful if you breathed it in? Get a lead testing kit before you scrape off the old paint.

  • Check labels of any food, vitamin or supplement that might contain trace amounts of products to which you’re allergic.

  • Planning a cookout for family and friends? Keep your food cool and fresh—not out in the sun. When the heat goes up, so does your risk for food poisoning.

  • Change the batteries of your carbon monoxide detector twice a year, when you change your clocks for the beginning or end of daylight savings. Since CO is colorless, odorless and tasteless, your only defense against accidental poisoning is your detector.

  • Dispose of unwanted, unused medications properly. Most can be thrown in the trash, but first emptied into a sealable bag and mixed with an undesirable substance (used coffee grounds, used kitty litter) to detract animals, kids or people going through your trash.

  • When cleaning the house, wear gloves, don’t mix cleaners & keep windows open. Use one at a time. Or, try the non-toxic but highly effective baking soda and vinegar combo. It cleans almost everything, naturally.

  • With "tick season" here and in full swing, it's extra important to use bug spray. Those that contain DEET are the most effective, but check the label. If you’re putting bug repellent on your child, make sure the product doesn’t contain more than 6% to 10% DEET. Adults can safely use products with up to 30% DEET.

Talk to your family about doing everything you can to prevent poisonings.

Blogged by Katie Crommett

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