Poison – panic stations!

By Drum Digital
29 March 2014

If your child ingested poison would you know what to do? Prompt action could mean the difference between life and death. We give some helpful tips.

In the wrong little hands the ammonia you use to clean your drains is a dangerous thing. In fact, most household cleaners are poisonous and if curious kids get hold of them the results can be fatal.

Most poisoning incidents occur in the home and children are usually the victims. About 80 per cent of children who are poisoned every year are younger than five, says Dr Joy Veale of the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre at Tygerberg hospital in Cape Town.

“They swallow anything: cleaning materials, paraffin, turpentine, mothballs and rat poison.”

Your home – the garden included – is a minefield of poisons and you’ll probably discover your child has swallowed Granny’s pain pills only after the medication has been absorbed into the bloodstream. Poisons such as insecticides and other pesticides can cause burns in or around the mouth, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, drowsiness and even fits.

Pesticides can also be absorbed through the skin. And acids (such as those used in swimming pools) or alkalines (ammonia, for example) can damage the skin and eyes. The skin becomes red and swells, burns or blisters, and eyes can become red, irritated and watery.

And despite your vigilance in keeping poisons out of reach your child could also be bitten by a poisonous insect. Cut out and keep our indispensable guide to poison treatments on the opposite page. It may save a life.

Life saver

Download this handy guide of poison, treatments and emergency numbers, print it and keep it in a handy place like on the fridge.

Treatment PDF

- Betina Louw

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