The following tips are primarily for the fall season, but be aware of them all year round.
Kids are back in school. Cold and flu season is here. Holidays are just around the corner—be mindful of food safety concerns surrounding your family. Here are some other tips to help you prevent poisonings during this busy time of year.
- Keep medicines, vitamins, diet supplements, and household products in the containers they came in (i.e., tight, possibly child-proof lids).
- Keep them locked up where children cannot see or reach them, particularly those medicines that taste, smell, or look like candy or drinks. Do this at home and when traveling.
- Tell your doctor about all medicines you are taking and be careful when taking multiple prescriptions.
- Be sure you are not using two or more products that contain the same drug.
- It’s common to overdose on the drug acetaminophen, so be extra careful.
- Read and follow directions and warnings on all labels before taking medicine.
- If you have questions about how to use your medicine, call your doctor or pharmacist or call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center, if you have a question after hours.
- Talk to your doctor before taking any food supplements (such as vitamins, minerals, or herbs).
- Never take medicine in the dark.
- Never take other people's prescription drugs. Take only those that are prescribed for you.
- Products, like medicine, that taste, smell, or look like candy or drinks may attract children. Be sure to keep these products out of sight. Keep them out of reach and locked up.
- Children learn by imitating adults. Children who see adults taking medicine will try to do the same thing.
- Do you have medicine you no longer need or that has expired? Get rid of medicines that have expired or are no longer needed. Ask your local pharmacist how you can return unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs to pharmaceutical take-back locations for safe disposal. If this is not available, take the unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers. Mix the drugs with an undesirable substance, such as kitty litter, and put them in waterproof containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, to make sure that they are not found and used by people or animals. Throw these containers in the trash. Your poison center may have updated advice for your area, call 1-800-222-1222. The Drug Enforcement Administration and its national and community partners hold their National Prescription Take Back Day in late April and October. Visit the National Prescription Take Back Day site for dates, times, event locations and year-round locations.
- Only experts can tell poisonous mushrooms from safe mushrooms.
- Eating even a few bites of certain mushrooms can cause liver damage that can kill you.
- Poisonous mushrooms, called "death caps," often grow in yards and parks.
- Berries may attract children. Some berries that can harm people do not harm birds and other animals.
- If you think someone ate berries from a plant, right away call the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center. Poison center experts probably will not be able to identify the plant on the phone.
- A greenhouse or plant nursery can help identify your plants, so learn the names of the plants around your home just in case.
Back to school and art supplies
- Children often use art products (e.g., glue, paint, ink) at home, school, and day care. These art products are mixtures of chemicals. They can be dangerous if not used correctly, stored properly, or expired.
- Make sure children use art products safely by reading labels carefully, following the directions for safe use and disposal, and cleaning up tables, desks, and counters appropriately.
- Young children are likely to put pretty, colorful art products in their mouths. Additionally, if a product is splashed into the eyes or spilled onto skin, right away call the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center.
- Do not eat or drink while using art products.
- Never use products for painting skin unless the product says it is safe to do so.
- Never use products to decorate food unless the product says it is safe to do so.
- Keep art products in the containers they came in.
Carbon monoxide (CO)
- Fall is usually the time we turn on heaters and generators. Make sure your heating system is running smoothly and the carbon monoxide detector has fresh batteries.
- For more information on CO, refer to winter tips.
Call for help
Remember, if you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned, immediately call the toll-free Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center.