Children, Pets Act Fast ... So Does Poison

Poison prevention week starts March 20

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Exploration and investigation of the world around them is a natural part of learning for children under five. Sometimes their curious minds and increasingly coordinated fingers lead youngsters into danger.

Poison control hotlines handle 1.2 million calls per year -- 200,000 from Arizona. Household products are responsible for 90 percent of the injuries of the 78,000 children who are admitted to the emergency room in poison-related incidents.

"Emergency room visits are clearly preventable," said Hal Stratton, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Normal, everyday products like baby oil, mouthwash with ethanol, over-the-counter (medications) and adult vitamins with iron can be toxic to young children if improperly ingested."

"Children act fast ... so do poisons" is the basic theme of National Poison Prevention Week that starts Monday, March 20. The message is that parents and caregivers are on the front lines of the fight against accidental poisonings and they must be watchful.

Small children associate cups, bottles and drinking glasses with food and drink, so it is dangerous to use these containers to hold paint thinner or other household chemicals.

First aid kit remedies like Activated Charcoal and Syrup of Ipecac should not be administered unless your are told to do so by a doctor, because certain chemicals can be as, or more, toxic coming up as they were being swallowed.

"Minutes count in poisoning," said Kathleen Wruk, president of American Association of Poison Control Centers.

The health-care provider you speak with at a poison control center is specially trained in poison management. The expert will need to know the victim's age and weight. They will assess the situation, provide emotional support and advise the caller what needs to be done.

Household is full of unexpected pet poisons

Something as innocent as feeding your dog a handful of raisins can cause kidney failure in the animal. Spilling medication and not picking up all the pills can leave a poisonous hazard for your cat.

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This is the 2005 National Poison Prevention Week poster by Oklahoma resident Jessica Shenoi. Children who would like to submit art for the 2007 poison prevention poster contest can find the rules at: http://poisonprevention.org/poster.htm.

People sometimes put antifreeze in their toilets to prevent pipes from freezing and it is toxic for animals to drink from it.

The common household is full of potential pet poisons.

If your dog, cat or bird ingests something they shouldn't, you can call your local vet or an animal poison control center.

"Owner's medication is a common type of toxic ingestion," said veterinarian Danielle Hettler of Star Valley Veterinary Clinic. "It happens when the owner drops a pill on the floor and the animal picks it up."

Rimadyl is a chewable pill used to treat arthritis in dogs. Flavored like beef, if a dog gets into the supply they can overdose.

Hettler has treated dogs who have lapped paint from open containers.

The houseplants your pets may decide to chew on can be toxic.

"Chocolate is very bad for dogs," Hettler said. "Grape and raisin toxicosis causes kidney failure in animals."

The 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is (888) 426-4435. A $55 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card. The fee allows the Center to operate at a break-even level.

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