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Poisons in the Home.



If you have an acute emergency please ring the Poisons Information Centre. The phone number is listed under emergency services on the inside front cover page of the telephone directory. If they confirm the emergency then a doctor should immediately be contacted.

Poisoning with household products is most common in young children and is usually accidental. Products commonly ingested are bleaches, detergents, disinfectants, compounds containing petroleum distillates including paint thinners, paraffin and kerosene, turpentine, furniture and floor polishes. Cosmetics also have fascination for the young child.

The older child over the age of 5 can become attracted to medicines although with the modern packaging of medicine it has become more difficult to gain access to the contents of bottles and plastic containers. Remember that children can probably work out how to open a child proof container faster than you can.

Fortunately in most cases the amount of poison consumed is small although with a young child it is difficult to establish exact amounts. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are the main symptoms of household poisoning in children, particularly in the case of detergents and toiletries and petroleum distillates.

Treatment for some poisons can include induced vomiting. Acids and alkalis if they can be identified, are treated by ingestion of large amounts of water or milk. Most household poisons are labeled with information regarding procedures to be used if accidental amounts are swallowed. All of these potentially dangerous substances should be kept out of the reach of young children.

Unknown substances contained in unmarked containers should be identified and the containers labeled or thrown out when empty.

Occasionally, advice given for poisoning includes the instruction “induce vomiting”. Syrup of Ipecachuana, available from chemists, will produce vomittting when 5-10 ml is given. However, some poisons also affect the gullet on the way back up, so vomiting should only be induced when you are specifically advised to do so.

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