Over the counter pain medications and household cleaners are most common cause of poisoning at home

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Poison Prevention Week is March 15-21, 2020.

Of the nearly 9,000 poison related calls received in 2019, approximately 70 per cent of these were unintentional exposures, mostly occurring at home.

“Medication poisonings account for two thirds of the calls we receive,” says Laurie Mosher, clinical leader of the IWK Regional Poison Centre. “The most common medications involved in unintentional poisonings, across all age groups, relate to over the counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These medications are commonly found in the household.”

According to Health Canada, there are hundreds of medicines containing acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Unintentional poisoning can occur when using more than recommended dose: incorrect dosing, improper measuring, using too close together or using multiple medications containing acetaminophen. Young children are smaller and therefore at increased risk.

Among non-medications, household cleaning substances, such as bleach, are the most common exposure. Bleach can cause burns and irritation the skin, eyes, and throat. When mixed with other cleaners it can produce poisonous chlorine gas. Mosher strongly recommends following directions on the label when using cleaning supplies and to never mixed cleaners with other products, and store in original container.

“Unintentional poisonings among children typically occur during busy times of the day – think early mornings, evenings during busy supper hour,” says Chantal Walsh, Health Promotion Specialist for Child Safety Link. “Safely storing products is so important, but so is understanding the label of what you are using or giving.”

The IWK Regional Poison Centre offers confidential 24/7 telephone advice to both the public (all ages) and health Care professionals of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. If you have questions or would like to speak to a poison specialist team member call toll-free 1-800-565-8161. www.iwkpoisoncentre.ca