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Poisoning Cases Down, Kids Still Common Victims

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Poisoning Cases Down, Kids Still Common Victims

It is National Poison Prevention Week, medical experts say awareness from parents and extra care from pharmaceutical companies are cutting down the number of cases.

White County EMS Director Mike Kerr said poisoning deaths and hospitalizations most commonly result from children ingesting dangerous substances that they mistake for candy. He said parents must be careful to keep pill bottles securely closed and out of reach. He said young children mirror the behavior of the adults in their lives, drawing them to medication that they see their parents and grandparents consume daily.

“We’re seeing the lids that, you know, you have to push down or you have to squeeze and turn,” Kerr said. “And the pill bottles that you have to push the tab down and turn it. So, we’re seeing a lot of that. It helps a lot. that’s pretty commonplace now and practice with medication and things that are bad for us.”

Kerr said outside of medicine, kids see the bright colors of laundry detergent pods and consume them under the misconception that they, too, are candy. He said household cleaning supplies can be a danger for children as well. He said in adults, mistakenly mixing medications or consuming unsafe dosages are among the highest causes.

“Nationally, it’s like, Aspirin, Tylenol, things like that,” Kerr said. “Analgesics. Then, fumes and gasses, you know, picking up grandparents’ medications that the bottle’s left open, things like that. Batteries is a thing that some kids swallow and they break open inside of them.”

Kerr said animals are commonly poisoned as well. He said barn animals are likely to mistake harmful chemicals for a food source and face dangerous repercussions. He said kids and pets alike are liable to consume sweet chemicals like engine antifreeze. He said typically, chemicals have a bad taste and kids spit them out, but the sweet flavor of antifreeze makes it a more likely culprit in poison cases.

“Things like that need to be put up where they can’t be reached,” Kerr said. “You know, put in cabinets with security locks on them.”

He said the EMS poisoning reporting system counts all overdoses as poisoning cases, whether they are intentional, result from illicit drug use, or are caused by incorrect use of legal drugs. He said this makes it difficult to get an accurate count of how many people are poisoned each year, but he believes cases are dropping thanks to more caution and knowledge of the danger.


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