Parents in NSW are being warned common household products pose a serious poisoning threat these summer holidays. Here are the top dangers at home.
Parents in NSW are being warned common household products pose a serious poisoning threat these summer holidays. Here are the top dangers at home.

Household items poisoning NSW kids

Parents in NSW are being warned common household products pose a serious poisoning threat these summer holidays.

New data lists paracetamol, ibuprofen and alcohol as among the top 10 substances involved in actual or suspected poison exposures across the December 1 to January 31 period over the past three years.

The figures, from the NSW Poisons Information Centre, showed more than 1560 cases of the headache-busting paracetamol were recorded in the state, while ibuprofen accounted for 880 cases.

Alcohol was third on the national list and 652 cases were from NSW. A further 649 locals called for advice over antipsychotic drug quetiapine, and 676 sought advice over pyrethrins or pyrethroids - a compound commonly found in fly sprays. 

Relaxant diazepam, more commonly known as Valium, was the sixth most common substance Australians sought advice on and accounted for 420 cases in NSW.

 

 

The list was rounded off with bleach (472 cases in NSW), household cleaners (446), paracetamol drugs with codeine (336), and cyaulume light sticks, more commonly known as glow sticks (414).

Senior poisons specialist at the Centre, Genevieve Adamo, said the summer period - as Australians socialised more and had people over to their homes - was risky because due to it being "ubiquitous".

"It can be very dangerous through accidental exposures if kids get into it and have large quantities accidentally. And also through medication errors where people are taking it too frequently, or taking slightly more than they're supposed to regularly over a period of time as well as people taking excessive amounts of self-harm," Ms Adamo said.

Increased alcohol consumption over the break also presented dangers.

"Young people or children may be at parties where adults are consuming alcohol, and they may be inadvertently or accidentally exposed to it," she said.

"Alcohol can cause toxicity in children and young people more frequently and have more serious effects."

Ms Adamo said in the event of an actual or suspected poisoning, vomiting should not be induced.

Pakenham mum Emily Studd takes steps to ensure dangerous products are out of reach. Picture: David Caird
Pakenham mum Emily Studd takes steps to ensure dangerous products are out of reach. Picture: David Caird

If the eyes or skin was affected, she recommended flushing with water for 10 minutes while someone else called the poisons centre with details of the exposure.

Dr Osanda Wijeratne, deputy chief medical officer at Healthdirect Australia, said in order to lower the risk of poisoning at the home, products like cleaners and medications should be kept high up in cupboards, and fitted with a child-safety lock or clip.

Dr Wijerante said button batteries, which can cause-life threatening injuries and even death if swallowed, should be disposed of immediately when replaced, and when in use, secured to the greatest extent possible.

Ibuprofen tablets left around the house are a major risk.
Ibuprofen tablets left around the house are a major risk.

"Lots of household devices are powered by button batteries. It's important to make sure that if you're replacing them to make sure they're not left lying around," he said.

"When in use, make sure the battery compartment is shut … you can also use a strong bit of household tape to secure the compartment closed".

He said adults sometimes found themselves in trouble after accidentally taking double doses, or mistaking another family member's prescription medication as their own.

A way to avoid this if taking multiple medications was to ask a pharmacist to fill a Webster-pak, which sets out an individual's weekly medication for them, he said.

 

 

Button batteries can cause-life threatening injuries and even death if swallowed.
Button batteries can cause-life threatening injuries and even death if swallowed.

A way to avoid this if taking multiple medications was to ask a pharmacist to fill a Webster-pak, which sets out an individual's weekly medication for them, he said.

Mother Emily Studd said her two young girls - Savannah, 12, and Sophia, five - have fortunately avoided accidents with household poisons because she took steps to ensure the common, yet dangerous products were out of their reach when they were younger.

"The cleaners are stored under the sink and the medicines are in a high cupboard in the bathroom and fridge," Ms Studd said.

"My children are old enough to understand now, but we also don't use many overly toxic chemicals or cleaners.

"Children can be incredibly quick and very clever at finding things they shouldn't."

For free poisons advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26

 

TIPS TO PREVENT AND HANDLE POISONINGS

 

- Do not induce vomiting if a substance has been ingested.

- In the event of an exposure to the skin or eyes, flush with water for 10 minutes.

- Keep items like cleaners and medications up high in cupboards away from children.

- Do not decant cleaners into other bottles.

- Keep track of when you have taken your medications to avoid double dosing.

 

 

- Call the Poisons Information Centre for free advice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 13 11 26

 

Source: Genevieve Adamo, Senior Poisons Specialist, NSW Poisons Information Centre; Carol Wylie, Manager, QLD Poisons Information Centre; Associate Professor Shaun Greene, Medical Director, Victorian Poisons Information Centre

 

Originally published as Household items poisoning NSW kids


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