Many people believe that poison and medication overdose only happens to children. Actually, 45% of all calls to the Manitoba Poison Centre are about people over the age of 19 years old. We receive more than 8,000 calls annually from older adults aged 60 and over. One third of these calls are related to medication errors.
Here are some tips to prevent unintentional poisonings:
Mistakes can happen when you are taking your medicine. Here are some tips to help you take your medicine safely:
When you start taking a new medicine, make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist the following questions:
When giving medicine to someone else, always be sure you are giving them:
Many poisonings occur because harmful products have not been used or stored properly. Very young children are especially in danger of being poisoned. It only takes a few seconds for a child to swallow a dangerous amount of a poisonous product that is not stored safely. Safe and proper storage of household poisons is extremely important.
Make sure all medicine is LOCKED up! A fishing tackle or tool box with a lock works well. Store all of your family's over-the-counter prescription and herbal remedies in the locked box. Get rid of old medicine by taking it back to your local pharmacy for disposal.
Each day, the ManitobaPoison Centre is contacted about poisonings because of medicine overdoses. Many overdoses happen because the medicine was not stored safely. Many parents store their family’s medicines in a cupboard that is up high. This storage strategy does NOT work. Children will climb to very high places to reach hidden medicines. Medicines must be locked up to be safe.
Keep harmful products locked up in a cupboard or container. There are a variety of safety latches that can be purchased to lock a cupboard or cabinet. Find them in the child safety section of local stores. You should choose one that works for your family and your child.
Always store harmful products in their original containers. Never put a substance in a cup, water bottle or any other drinking container. Products that have been moved into other drinking containers will be mistaken for drinks (for example sports drinks, soft drinks, juice etc.)
Remember that products that have been moved out of their original containers are missing:
Many household products and medicines have specially designed lids that parents think are “child-proof”. There is no such thing as a child-proof container. These containers are child-resistant. Child-resistant containers are designed so children cannot open a container easily. Do not rely on the container to keep your child safe.
Keep in mind that these containers are effective in slowing the time it takes your child to open the container. Hopefully, this delay will give you enough time to stop your child from opening the package. Only buy products and chemicals in child-resistant containers. Also, buy the smallest amount needed for immediate use. Try to avoid large bulk-size containers.
Many poisons in your home are labeled with a Skull and Crossbones hazard symbol. Learn more about hazard symbols found on household products in Canada.