Safeguard Your Home Against Toxins
March 6, 2018
By Titilola M. Afolabi; Pharm.D., BCPS, BCPPS
Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy-Glendale
March 18-24 is National Poison Prevention Week and a great time to safeguard your family from toxic exposures. Along with cabinet and toilet locks and electrical outlet plugs, safeguarding requires constant vigilance and protective measures.
For example, purses could contain hearing aid batteries—a potential hazard for ingestion—and e-cigarettes filled with concentrated nicotine that can cause toxic exposure through contact with eyes, skin, or mouth. Potential toxins are easily accessible in every part of the house.
Children can be harmed through accidentally ingesting, inhaling, or touching toxic substances—the very behaviors through which babies naturally experience the world. Children under six have the highest risk of toxic exposure, and the top substances include cosmetics/personal care products, cleaning substances, analgesics, foreign bodies/toys, topical preparations, and vitamins. However, any substance can be toxic, depending on amount, concentration, or circumstance of exposure.
Three principles in safeguarding the home include safe use, safe storage, and safe environment. Safe use requires carefully following all product directions and cautions. Safe storage requires keeping products in their original (and childproof) containers and always returning them immediately to secure storage, far out of reach. To ensure a safe environment, always keep children in sight; install security measures such as pool fences, covers, alarms, or self-closing doors; routinely dispose of expired products and medications; and eliminate toxic plants from homes and gardens.
Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation or basic life support skills and have an action plan for suspected toxic exposure. Immediately call 911 if the victim is unconscious or not breathing; otherwise call the National Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222.
It takes continuous vigilance and effort to safeguard your surroundings and prevent toxic exposure—not just during one national awareness week, but 24/7/365.