In 2016, 78 percent of reported poison exposures were accidental. To avoid the toxic effects of medicines and household cleaners, take these simple steps to keep you and your family safe.

Before using any medication or household cleaner, read the directions on the label. For medications, this means following the dosage your doctor has prescribed and never taking prescriptions not prescribed to you by a doctor.

Avni Jain, MD, a primary care physician with Adventist Medical Group, stresses the importance of reading labels on medication to prevent toxic reactions. “Some medicines cannot be combined with other medications,” she said. “Sort through your medicine cabinet and throw away unused, unneeded or expired medications. If you ever have any questions about a particular medication, call your doctor or pharmacist.”

For household cleaners, keep all products in their original containers and read the labels before using a product. Open windows to air out spaces while cleaning. Also, never mix household products together as this can result in a toxic gas.

Finally, ensure all medicines and household cleaning products are properly stored. “Keep these products out of reach and sight or in a locked cabinet where children and pets cannot access them,” Dr. Jain said.

What to do if a Poisoning Occurs

  1. If the victim is not breathing, call 911. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
    1. The victim’s age and weight
    2. The container or bottle of the poison if available
    3. The time of the poison exposure
  2. Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

Sources: CDC.Posion.org. Lifework Strategies, Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.