Groups urge families to poison-proof their homes

To prevent poisoning incidents that can endanger children and adults alike, a toxicology experts group and a toxic watchdog group jointly urged families to poison-proof their homes.

Coinciding with the observance of the National Poisoning Prevention Week (NPPW), the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology (PSCOT) and the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to all families to take precautionary steps to protect everyone from being exposed to poisoning agents via ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption. 

Celebrated every fourth week of June as per Proclamation No. 1777, the annual NPPW aims to increase people’s awareness on the importance of poisoning prevention at home, school, work and the general environment. 

“Preventing members of our families from getting poisoned is indeed better than cure, especially during these days when hospitals are preoccupied with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.  By taking steps to poison-proof our homes and educating our families about poisoning prevention, we surely can avoid life-threatening medical emergencies and  unnecessary medical bills,” said Dr. Carissa Dioquino-Maligaso, President of PSCOT and Chairperson of the Department of Neurosciences of the Philippine General Hospital.     

While poisoning can affect persons in every age bracket, young children are known to be more susceptible to the toxic effects of poisons in the environment.

“Children are more vulnerable to the injurious effects of poisonous substances than adults,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, noting that “their body defense systems are still undeveloped, they breathe more air, eat more food and drink more water in proportion to their weight, they have thinner skin, and they often put their hands and even objects, which may contain germs and chemical contaminants, in their mouths.”    

For safer, poison-proof homes, both PSCOT and the EcoWaste Coalition encourage households to observe the following preventive measures:

1. Handle, use, store and dispose of products safely at all times. 

2.  Read the product labels carefully, be mindful of hazard pictograms and precautionary warnings, and follow safety instructions. 

3.  Return all products to their proper storage immediately after use. 

4.  Never place poisonous products in beverage and food containers.  Keep them in their original containers.

5.  Store food and potential poisons in separate cabinets.

6.  Keep medicines, bleaching, cleaning and laundry products, e-cigarette liquid refills, insecticides, paints, varnishes and thinners, and car maintenance materials out of children’s sight and reach in a securely locked cabinet or area.

7.  Never allude to medicine as “candy,” “chocolate” or any other name that appeals to a child.

8.  Safely get rid of unused, unwanted or expired medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

9.  Do not mix household cleaning products together to prevent the formation of dangerous fumes.

10.  Never reuse pesticide and other chemical containers for storing food and water. 

11.  Secure the battery compartment of games, toys and other items powered by small button-cell batteries, which can cause choking and chemical risk if ingested.

12.   Wash children’s toys and other play things regularly to lessen the risk of ingesting lead-containing dust and other environmental pollutants.

13.   Teach kids how to safely use art materials such as crayons, water colors, glues and other adhesives and remind them not to eat or drink while doing their art assignments.

14.  Be aware of plants inside and outside your home as some of them may be poisonous to children, as well as pets.

15.  Put the National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC) emergency phone numbers on your mobile phone and call the center for advice and referral if needed: 85241078, 85548400 local 3976, 0966-7289904 and 0922-8961541.

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