Act fast: if you think someone is poisoned

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Many of us have heard about or know someone who has had a situation where their child has gotten into the cleaning supply cabinet, found some medicine that was accidentally left out. Most of us have not experienced this and I was one of them until recently. March 18 through 24 is Poison Prevention Week and since I just went through the nightmare of my two year old holding an open bottle of Claritin, I thought it fitting that I try to arm you with information that you might not know.
Most of us have taken the time to "child proof" our home with the arrival of our new born, we read books, magazine article and even ask other "parents" what they did to get prepared. How many of us continue to do this as our children grow up?
Some statistics from the Poison Control Center reveal that we do not continue to take the necessary precautions to prevent the preventable. On average, poison centers handle one poison exposure every 14 seconds. Most poisonings involve everyday household items such as cleaning supplies, medicines, cosmetics and personal care items. Eighty-nine percent of all poison exposures occur in the home; 92 percent of exposures involve only one poisonous substance; 86.7 percent of poison exposures are unintentional. Fifty-three percent of poison exposures occur in children under the age of six and 75 percent of poison exposures involve ingestion of a poisonous substance.
Here are a few simple steps to protect your loved ones at home:
Store medicines and household products in their original containers.
Lock medicines and household products where children cannot see or reach them.
Use child-resistant packaging. Replace the caps tightly after using a product.
Read the label before taking or giving medicine -- every time.
Use household products according to label directions. Mixing household products can cause dangerous gases to form.
What happened to Ipecac Syrup? This medicine could be used to make a child vomit after swallowing poison. Now, your doctor doesn't tell you to keep it. The poison center doesn't tell you to use it. You can't even buy ipecac in the drugstore. The short story: Call the poison center right away if you think someone has been poisoned.
My wife and I knew about the poison control center but we did not have the number posted anywhere and didn't know what they could do for us. When you call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, you are automatically connected to the poison center for your area. If you call from a cell phone, you will reach a poison center. If you are told to go to the emergency room, the Poison control center will notify the hospital that you are going to and give the emergency room staff all the information and ways to treat the poison victim before you arrive.
The bottom line: Anyone who spends time with children should post the poison center phone number on or near every phone. Call 1-800-222-1222 right away for a possible poisoning and they will tell you what to do. For more information you can go to http://www.poison.org/