On Your Side: When poisons beckon small children
Published Thursday, June 21, 2012 9:13PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 21, 2012 9:18PM EDT
MONTREAL - Some poisons are packed in very tempting packages that lures a child to ingest the toxins within.
Nineteen-month-old Isabella Sutton was was tempted into swallowing a colourful soap packet, which she likely believed to be a tasty treat.
She fell ill with vomiting and other symptoms, as have many other such children in front of the poisons.
Her mother never thought to put soap out of reach.
"You don't think about safety-proofing laundry detergent," said Jessica Sutton, Isabella's mother.
But according to Safe Kids Canada, even when parents think about safety-proofing their homes for possible poisons, they may not always follow through.
"Although people know exactly what to do, sometimes they don't necessarily put this into practice," said Toxicologist Martin Laliberte.
Canada's poison control centres receive about 160,000 calls a year from anxious Canadians, about half from parents of kids six-and-under.
At least seven Canadian children died of poisoning in 2008 but that total is probably low, according to Dr. Laliberte, who said that the Montreal Children's Hospital treats about two-to-three such cases each week.
"We're talking about primarily in younger children and in most cases these exposures can be prevented with very simple measures," he said.
Medication, household cleaning and car products like windshield wiper fluid and anti-freeze should be kept out of reach of children at all times.
One expert estimated that 70 percent of such poisonings stemmed from medications and vitamins.
Small lithium batteries, sometimes found in such random objects as greeting cards, can kill if swallowed and left unremoved within as little as two hours.
"We've had ingestions of these batteries and there can be a significant chemical reaction causing burns to the trachea the esophagus, the airwaves and so forth, said Debbie Friedman of the Montreal Children's Hospital.