Happy New Year! Whether you’ve made a new resolution or are rededicating yourself to a resolution you made last year (or many years ago), poison safety can impact the steps you take to achieve your goals. Take a look at the tips provided below to help keep you, your family, and your house poison safe this year.
Resolution #1: Quit Smoking
One of the most popular resolutions is to stop smoking. Nicotine gum, patches, and other methods are often used, but can be harmful if used in the wrong way or by the wrong person. These items should not be kept somewhere a child could reach. We sometimes hear about these items being kept in a purse or backpack, but where do we tend to put our purses and backpacks? On the floor or on a dining room chair — both places children and pets have easy access to. Children can also easily mistake nicotine gum for regular chewing gum, potentially leading to a nicotine overdose.
Recently, e-cigarettes have been a hot topic in the media, especially with the rise in e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury (EVALI) cases. You can read more about EVALI in a previous blog post. Many people believe that e-cigarettes and vapes are a safer alternative or way to quit smoking, but there is no evidence to support this at this time. Because of the recent increase in e-cigarette and vape use, there have been some devastating poisoning cases in which children have gotten into e-cigarette liquid. These liquids can contain high concentrations of nicotine, so they should be kept up, away, and out of sight.
Remember, nicotine is a stimulant drug, regardless of the form it takes. It can interact with other medicines and cause unwanted health effects when used incorrectly. You can find more information on our e-cigarette and nicotine info sheet.
Resolution #2: Lose Weight
Over-the-counter weight loss supplements fill store shelves and are also available to buy online. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not review these supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are put on the market. These products are sometimes made with hidden active ingredients that are unsafe, and are not safe for all people to consume, as they can cause unwanted effects. The FDA suggests that people talk with their doctor before starting any supplement. If you choose to add a supplement to your daily regimen, pay close attention to the dosing and instructions on the label. Taking more will not help you lose weight faster.
Resolution #3: Regularly Clean the House
I don’t know about you, but the dog hair, dishes, and laundry seem to be never-ending in my house. Whether you’re a weekly, monthly, or seasonal cleaner, there are steps you can take to keep you and your family safe. Always supervise children around cleaning supplies. Remember, they like to imitate adult behavior and may join your cleaning time. When older children begin to help you clean, teach them the proper way to use the product, how to read the label, and how to follow the directions on the label. Keep products up, away, and out of sight after use. Many cleaning products have the potential to cause unwanted effects if they are inhaled, get in the mouth or eye, or get on the skin. Products such as oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, soap scum removers, and drain openers can cause more severe effects and are best stored in a locked cabinet.
Resolution #4: Keep the Medicine Cabinet Clean and Safe
Don’t let your medicine cabinet be the dealer! Friends and family who live in or visit your home may seek medicine in your cabinet. Do not keep unused or expired medicines in your home. If your doctor instructs you to stop taking a medicine, promptly dispose of it. There are permanent drop-off locations around Maryland, which can be found here. If you would rather dispose of medicines at home, we have simple instructions for safe disposal. We also often get questions about flushing medicines. We suggest people review the FDA’s flush list to see which medicines are able to be flushed.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2020. As always, if you suspect a poisoning or overdose, call the experts at the Maryland Poison Center (MPC) at 1-800-222-1222 right away. Don’t wait for symptoms. Your call is free and confidential.