Unintentional poisoning is on the rise, especially among children. Really, this should come as no surprise. More and more families fill their homes with potent cleaning products and pesticides. Lead from old pipes and paint gets into the air and drinking water. And as life becomes more complex and stressful there is a greater tendency to stock strong medications in the medicine cabinet.
The statistics are alarming: emergency rooms nationwide see over two thousand victims of unintentional poisoning each day. The Centers for Disease Control report that in 2009, 31,758 people lost their lives due to ingesting poison by mistake. Only motor vehicle fatalities account for more unintentional injuries and deaths. Moreover, this rate has been on the increase for nearly twenty years.
What Is Poison?
A poison is, by definition, any substance that harms the body when ingested, inhaled, injected, or absorbed through the skin. Most any substance can fall under this definition if taken in large enough quantities. Many people are not aware that alcohol is actually a poison: drink enough of it and you will die.
Children are particularly vulnerable to unintentional poisoning. The very young tend to put anything in their mouths if they are able. If ant killer – or even hair spray – is left where a child can access it, there is a danger that they will ingest it. Children by nature love to imitate adults. If they see a parent using ammonia to clean floors, they may sneak out the bottle and drink it.
Why Is Poisoning on the Rise?
Much of the rise in poisonings is attributable to the medications kept in the homes. One may be surprised to know that among the more dangerous drugs are those designed to treat hypertension. Given that these lower blood pressure, taking an overdose can lead to serious injury, even death, particularly with children. Moreover, the young are prescribed medications much more frequently these days. They should not be allowed to monitor their own usage.
There are measures parents can and should take to help keep their charges from dangerous substances:
- Lock away all medications. Put cleaning solutions, pesticides, pool chemicals, etc. in cabinets and padlock them.
- Read labels. Know what the dangers are of substances you keep around the house.
- Discard any substances you don’t need.
- Keep the number to poison control handy: 1-800-222-1222. Have this number on or beside every phone in the house. Teach children how to call this number, as well as 911.
If you or your child accidentally ingests a poisonous substance, at times someone else may be at fault. Your child may, for instance, be visiting a friend. Once medical attention has been secured, it is important to contact a New York personal injury attorney to discuss your options. In some instances you may be able to file a claim to recover damages such as medical costs, loss of income, pain, and suffering, etc.