Now that we're settling into a new year, many of us are reflecting on how to make things safer for ourselves and our families. • The American Association of Poison Control Centers has some suggestions to make 2011 "poison-proof." Poisonings are preventable, and since more Americans now die from poisonings than from any other injury besides car accidents, this is the perfect time to take a close look at your home and your daily routine and make some changes. • With that in mind, here are some resolutions for a poison-free 2011. American Association of Poison Control Centers
1"I will be safer with my medications." Poison deaths overwhelmingly result from mistakes with drugs — including legally prescribed medication used incorrectly. Pain medications, antianxiety drugs and stimulant-type drugs are those most likely to cause death from overdose or misuse both in children and in adults. If you have questions about medication mistakes, call your poison center immediately at toll-free 1-800-222-1222. Never try to sleep off a medication mistake.
2"I'll make my home a 'poison-safe zone.' " Having a "poison-safe zone" means having a routine for where you store your medication and chemicals such as cleaners, pesticides and even cosmetic products that might be dangerous. Hazardous products should be kept up and out of reach of children, in their original containers, and ideally secured with a cabinet lock. Each time a new product comes home, put that item in the safest spot. That goes for visitors, too; Grandma's medications can be dangerous in the wrong hands, for example.
3"I'll get rid of my old medications, chemicals and cleaners." Safely dispose of old or unneeded products. Expired or unused medications can become a hazard for small children or a temptation to teens or others with a substance abuse problem. Many communities around the country now offer medication take-back events to ensure that old medications are not abused, or flushed into the water supply. Don't forget products hiding in your garage or shed; most municipalities have hazardous waste dropoff sites that can safely dispose of (or even recycle) these potential poisons.
4"I'll protect my family from carbon monoxide." Buy and install a carbon monoxide detector in your home if you have indoor gas appliances such as an oven or water heater, kerosene space heaters, wood-burning stoves or even an attached garage. New homes are often required to have these, but older homes lack these safety devices. Make this quick and easy update to your home and protect your family from this silent killer. Call your poison center if you suspect you have been exposed to carbon monoxide. Symptoms include headaches, nausea and dizziness.
Reach your local poison center toll-free at 1-800-222-1222.