Poison safety tips to keep your family safe this winter

(BPT) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 2 million poisoning incidents per year within the U.S., and more than 90 percent of these occur within the home. This winter, keep your family safe by learning more about the potential for poisoning, how to prevent it and how to get help if an incident occurs, most notably by calling the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Follow these tips to have a healthy and safe winter season:

1) Know which winter items are poisonous. There are many household items in use during the winter that may pose a specific poison risk, including antifreeze and snow salt.

Antifreeze is a poisonous liquid used in cars. It has a sweet taste that children and animals like. If even a little is swallowed, it can be harmful and can cause kidney damage and death. Keep antifreeze, household cleaners and all chemicals in the containers they came in with a tight cap and keep away from children and pets. Before throwing away an antifreeze container, be sure to rinse it with water and replace the safety cap.

Salt used on driveways and sidewalks in winter can harm a pet or child if eaten. Store such salt out of reach and in a locked cabinet.

2) Keep your home warm — and safe. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that has no color, odor or taste. The risk for CO poisoning increases in the winter, as the use of fuel-burning devices increases. Sources of CO include gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas stoves, gas ovens, kerosene space heaters, wood and gas fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, power generators and car engines. These devices make CO, primarily when they are not working properly or are not used in a properly ventilated space.

Signs of CO poisoning are similar to flu and other cold-weather-virus symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and confusion. To prevent CO poisoning, have at least one CO detector in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces. Have your heating system, vents and chimney checked every year by experts. Always follow product instructions for installing and repairing appliances that burn fuel, and never burn charcoal inside a house or garage. Additionally, do not use a gas oven to heat a house or apartment or use unvented fuel-burning devices indoors. Finally, never run a car in a closed garage.

3) Don’t let winter cold and flu season become more serious. Be sure that all medication, including over-the-counter cold medicine, is kept in locked cabinets, away from children and pets. Also, avoid mercury poisoning by using digital thermometers instead of glass mercury thermometers, which can break in a child’s mouth. Stay with children when taking their temperature. Spilled mercury should be cleaned up properly as it is a hazardous waste.

4) Save the number, save a life. The Poison Help line is your first line of defense against poisoning deaths and injuries. By dialing 1-800-222-1222, you will be connected to a local poison center staffed by trained, professional experts who can help you right away. Save the number in your phone today so you have it if you need it. You can also visit the Poison Help website at www.poisonhelp.hrsa.gov for more information on poison prevention.


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