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Written by Teoh Hui Jiun, Pharmacist.

What is poison?

A poison is anything someone eats, breathes, gets in the eyes or on the skin, which can cause sickness or death if it gets into or on the body.

Poisons come in solid, liquid, gas or sprays forms.

Most common poison substance for children under 6:

§  Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

§  Household Cleaners

§  Analgesics

§  Vitamins and Minerals

§  Topicals

§  Foreign Bodies

§  Gastrointestinal Preparations

§  Cough and Cold Preparations

 

Most common poison substance for all ages:

§  Analgesics

§  Household Cleaners

§  Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

§  Vitamins and Minerals

§  Topicals

§  Sedative or Antipsychotics

§  Foreign Bodies

§  Antihistamines

 

Prevention of medicines poisoning [1]

  • Use child-resistant closures on medicines and household products.
  • Close caps tightly after each use.
  • Store medicines and poisons high up, where children cannot see or reach them.
  • Read the label carefully before giving medicine to children, each and every time.
  • Call medicine by its correct name. Don’t call medicine candy.
  • Beware of button batteries. Be sure new and used batteries are kept away from children. Tape over any battery compartments that are not secured with a screw.
  • Only take prescription medications that are prescribed by a healthcare professional. Misusing or abusing prescription or over-the-counter medications is not a “safe” alternative to illicit substance abuse.
  • Never take larger or more frequent doses of medications
  • Never share or sell prescription drugs. Keep all prescription medicines (especially prescription painkillers, such as those containing methadone, hydrocodone, or oxycodone), over-the-counter medicines (including pain or fever relievers and cough and cold medicines), vitamins and herbals in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.
  • Follow directions on the label when taking medicines. Read all warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken safely together with other medicines or alcohol.
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
  • Monitor the use of medicines prescribed for children and teenagers.
  • Dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs.

Prevention of household chemicals and carbon monoxide[2]

  • Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
  • Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
  • Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) when spraying pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as household cleaners.

What to do if a poisoning occurs?

  • Remain calm
  • Try to have this information ready:
    • the victim’s age and weight
    • the container or bottle of the poison if available
    • the time of the poison exposure
    • the address where the poisoning occurred
  • Program the National Poison Centre number into phones:
    • +6046570099 (Monday-Friday: 8.10am – 5.10pm)
    • +60124309499 (Monday-Friday: 5.10pm – 10.10pm; Weekends and Public Holidays: 8.10am – 5.10pm)
  • Make web http://www.prn.usm.my one of the browser favorites.
  • If a poisoning happens, act fast:

  • Clear anything out of the child’s mouth.
  • Rinse eyes and skin with running water if the poison was splashed or spilled. Get to fresh air if the poison was breathed in.
  • Call National Poison Centre right away. Do not wait for symptoms to show up.
  • Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

References:

  1. Mowry, J.B, Spyker, D.A., Cantilena, L.R.Jr., Bailey, J.E., Ford, M. (2012) Annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 30th annual report. Clinical Toxicology, 51, 949–1229.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2015, November 24). Tips to Prevent Poisionings. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/poisoning/preventiontips.htm
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