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August 25, 2011

Back-to-school safety: Avoid common poison mistakes

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The start of the school year means new morning routines for your entire household, creating opportunities for poison mistakes. For example, both parents may give their child medicine before making the drive to school.

To help avoid common poison accidents, here’s some tips from the Blue Ridge Poison Center at the University of Virginia Health System.

Preventing medicine mix-ups

It’s easy to give children the wrong dose – or the wrong medicine – as you move through your busy morning. When a child needs medicine, here how to make sure the right person gets the right dose of the right medicine at the right time:

Keep a schedule or checklist in a visible place where adults can mark when they have administered the correct dose. Keep each family member’s medicine in a different place. Read the label before you give any medicine (or take your own medicine).

Keep harmful substances out of sight

Young children will put everything they find into their mouth. And they like to imitate older siblings and adults. When they see you take medicine, put on cologne, or use a cleaning product, they want to handle those items too.

Medicines, toiletries and household cleaners should be kept out of the sight and reach of children. If possible, take your medicine where children can’t watch. Wait until you are ready to swallow your medicine before removing a pill from its container; don’t leave it sitting on a counter or table. If you accidentally drop a pill, stop everything until you find it.

Keep products in their original containers

Many harmful products closely resemble things that are good to eat or drink; for instance, some cleaning products look like apple juice. So you should never transfer potentially dangerous items such as medicines or cleaners to empty soda bottles or drinking cups. To prevent kids from swallowing something that looks safe but is actually dangerous:

Keep all products in their original, labeled containers. Store food and drinks in a separate location from all other items.

How to get help

Despite your best efforts, accidents do sometimes happen. If you think someone may have been poisoned, immediately call the Blue Ridge Poison Center at 800.222.1222. Don’t wait for symptoms to develop. Certified poison experts are available 24 hours a day, every day, to provide help. A trip to the doctor can often be avoided by following the poison center’s instructions. Calls are free and confidential.

For more information or to request a free magnet or sticker with the poison center’s toll free number for quick reference in an emergency, visit .

Available for interviews: Kristin Wenger, Education Coordinator at the Blue Ridge Poison Center.

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