Know Your Poison – Safeguard your Home

Monday, January 14, 2013 3:09 PM comments (0)

Poison ExposureIt’s easy to overlook the potential dangers that everyday products in our home may have on our health. We get used to storing cleaning supplies in lower cabinets, leaving toothpaste out within reach and letting our medicine cabinets fill up—often not thinking about the potential risks many of these products can pose to our families. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the vast majority (nearly 90%) of all exposures occur at home.

Jerrold Leikin, MD, Medical Toxicologist at NorthShore, provides a short list of some of the most dangerous household products and things that lead to exposure:

  • Cleaning supplies – Some of the most common offenders include: dishwasher detergent, bathroom cleaners, bleach and ammonia-based cleaners
  • Cosmetics – Perfume, nail polish remover, mouthwash and aftershave
  • Plants – It is not recommended to ingest any type of household plant, but the following may cause more extreme reactions: mistletoe, ivy, iris, holly, daffodil, etc. For a full list of poisonous plants, visit the Poison Center’s website.
  • Drugs – Prescription and over-the-counter medications, including sunscreen, lotions and insect repellents

Dr. Leikin recommends the following to help reduce your risk of exposure:

  • Use labels to mark which products are a poison danger.
  • Store products out of the reach of children and pets, and/or lock cabinets.
  • Discard unused items. Rather than stock up on cleaners and medications, only buy what you need to use. This will help limit the amount of potentially hazardous items in your home.
  • Install a carbon monoxide and smoke detector in your home. If you already have these in your home, check them frequently to be sure they are working.  It is also a good idea to regularly check that all gas appliances are in working order.

If you or someone you know has been exposed to a poison, call the Illinois Poison Center immediately at 1.800.222.1222. For more information about poison prevention and exposures, visit the NorthShore Medical Toxicology website.

How do you safeguard your home to reduce poison exposure?

What’s in your medicine cabinet?

Friday, March 23, 2012 1:06 PM comments (0)

Medicine CabinetThe contents of your medicine cabinet—if not used properly—could be potentially dangerous or even deadly. Common items such as vitamins, antacids and aspirin can all be misused and cause harm. However, the most commonly misused drugs are opiods, prescribed for pain relief; central nervous system depressants used for anxiety or sleep regulation; and stimulants most commonly prescribed for ADD or ADHD.

The Doreen E. Chapman Center at NorthShore reports that the two groups that are most vulnerable to misuse or abuse these drugs are teenagers and the elderly. The Center offers the following tips to help avoid misuse:

  • Talk to your teenagers and ‘senior’ parents about the dangers of medications. Explain to them the side effects that are possible. Tell your elderly parents that they should speak with their health care provider about all of their prescription information to avoid adverse side effects.
  • Remind your teenagers that prescriptions drugs have the same potential for abuse and dependence as street drugs. Pills should not be taken simply to ease ailments.
  • Inform the “over 65” group that drugs should not be combined with other medications (unless previous conversations with their physician have been made and approved) or alcohol.

What items do you have in your medicine cabinet? What do you do to ensure that these items are not being misused or abused?

Poison Prevention Can Be as Easy as Following Directions

Monday, March 19, 2012 11:13 AM comments (0)

Poison-PreventionThe vast majority of poison exposures occur in the household. In fact, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, nearly 90 percent of all exposures are home exposures. These typically involve ingestion of household products (cosmetics, cleaning supplies and personal care items), as well as drug interactions, food poisoning, and acute overdoses of prescription and non-prescription drugs.

Jerry Leikin, MD, a Medical Toxicologist at NorthShore recommends the following steps for helping to reduce your and your family’s risk of poison exposure:

  • Carefully read product labels and directions. Be sure that you are aware of any adverse effects or cautionary recommendations.
  • Be aware of tampered products when doing your shopping. Avoid buying products that have a broken seal, torn label or noticeable packaging defects.
  • Be mindful of your household product inventory. Be certain that products are stored correctly, are properly discarded and do not interact with other products you may be using.
  • Be conscientious of your surroundings – both indoors and outdoors. As best as you can, limit your exposure to poisons (cleaning supplies, cosmetics, chemicals, poisonous plants, etc.).
  • Install working, UL-approved smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

What precautionary methods do you employ at your house to reduce your risk to poisons? Do you frequently make changes to your home environment to safeguard your home?

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