National Poison Prevention Week is observed in North America on the third week of March. The annual campaign’s mission is to raise awareness about preventing unintentional poisoning. Park Insurance would like to use this as an opportunity to draw attention to the most at-risk members of your household – your children and pets.
Canada’s Public Health Agency reports that each year there are approximately 900 hospitalizations of children aged 14-years and younger due to poisoning, with an estimated 160,000 phone calls from guardians to poison control centers in the same time frame. As far as your furry family members are concerned, the problem is even further reaching, as something as simple as chocolate is poison to their physiological systems. Below is a breakdown of everything your BC household needs to know about preventing poisoning of your vulnerable dependents.
BC Households’ Guide to Poison Prevention for Children and Pets
I. Poison Prevention for Your Children
Identify What is Poison for Children in Your Home (and lock it away)
While common household products can be toxic in varying degrees, you should follow one very clear rule – when in doubt, keep it out of the hands of your kids. It’s really that simple. If it’s a toxin, store it in an inaccessible space and lock it up and hide the key or combination in a place that only you know about. This is required even if items claim to be sealed in child-protective packaging. Do this for ALL of the following:
- Household cleaners, detergents, and disinfectants (even if organic)
- Hand sanitizers
- Medications and antibiotics (even if for children)
- Personal hygiene products (mouthwash, perfumes and colognes, cosmetics, etc.)
- Health supplements (can be too much of a “good thing” for kids)
- Paint (cans, bottles, sprays, etc.)
- Fuel (gas, oil, kerosene, etc.)
- Lawn and garden care solutions
- Tobacco, nicotine, and cannabis products
Post and Program the Number for Poison Control
Ensure that your household has the number for the British Columbia Poison Control Centre. If you suspect someone has been poisoned by a medicine, chemical or other substance, call the Poison Control Centre (PCC) at 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911 immediately. Program these numbers for quick dial on to the phones of everyone in your household. And of course, let your kids know to first call 911 for any emergency concern when you’re not home or incapacitated.
Poison Concern? Call 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911
Install a Poison Response Station in Your Home
Most workplaces have poison response stations. Your household should too. Install it in a place where poisonings may occur, such as one of your bathrooms, by the kitchen, or near the laundry. You may also consider the garage as long as it is easily accessible from the inside of your home. Here’s what should be included:
- Sterile eyewash and flushing mechanism
- Alcohol (60%+) wipes (not liquids)
- Oral dosing syringe (for administering PCC suggested medication or other solution)
- Penlight or flashlight (to inspect eyes and back of the throat)
According to HealthLink BC, do NOT induce vomiting. In the event that your child consumes a potential toxin your first thought may be to induce vomiting. Please note that it is often not safe to induce vomiting to treat poisoning. When a child vomits certain poisons, such as acids, it increases the risk of burns and other injuries to their sensitive esophagus, throat, and mouth. Only if a 911-operator or poison control center tells you to should you take this step. Call 911 or the PCC immediately to find out what you should do and have the poison container with you so you can give them complete information.
II. Poison Prevention for Your Pets
Identify What is Poison for Pets in Your Home (and put them away)
ALL of the common household items that we listed above for children equally apply to your pets. When locked away from kids they are also locked away from all other “mammals” in the home.
But there are other toxic (to them) items that you should keep out of the reach of your curious cats and dogs. Research shows that common human foods can act like poison to pets. American-Humane suggests that you make the following food-toxins inaccessible to them:
- Chocolate (especially baking chocolate)
- Grapes and derivatives (raisins, wine, etc.)
- Coffee (ground and whole beans)
- Gum (namely xylitol-based) and candy
Other toxic non-food items that pets attempt to eat that you should put away include:
- Dryer sheets
- Ornaments (those holiday season bulbs contain toxic chemicals)
- Flea control products (when ingested)
- Certain household or yard plants (view here)
CBD – A New Threat to Pets
A 2019 report from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association reports a 448% increase over the past six years in cannabis-related vet calls. Keep all CBD products, from edibles to oils, locked away from your dog and/or cat.
Intentional Poisonings – The Human Threat
The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) reports that an average of 200 dogs per year are intentionally poisoned. There are cases like this reported every year across BC. This unfortunate occurrence is often connected to a disgruntled neighbor who has grown weary of a dog’s barking. It may also occur if a pet is using their (or common) property to relieve bodily fluids/solids, or has damaged their lawn or garden in other ways. While there is certainly no justification for this sort of reaction, we do encourage you to take responsibility for your pet and ensure that they do not disrupt neighbors in any way. And if arguments between you and them ensue, play the role of level-headed peacekeeper, even if you feel that you are in the right. In the end understanding, kindness, and respect is the best remedy against this threat.
Otherwise, if you suspect your pet is at risk, don’t hesitate to contact authorities if a verbal threat has been made or if other animals in your community have been harmed and everyone suspects the same individual. Harming a domesticated pet in any way is a criminal offense. If your neighbor’s behavior reflects ill feelings toward your pet inspect your yard and the perimeter of your property before they go out, and check for powders, foods (including pet treats), and strange substances on the grounds. And most importantly, keep your dog in sight at all times.
Post and Program the Number for a Pet Poison Hotline and Your Veterinarian
Ensure that your household has the number for a Pet Poison Hotline. In addition, get the number for a 24-hour emergency pet clinic in your area and also keep your veterinarian’s phone number on hand. Program these numbers for quick dial on to the phones of everyone in your household.
Note: In some cases (and contrary to how you manage the same concern for your child) the hotline or emergency pet service personnel may ask that you induce vomiting. If (and only if) they recommend it have 3% hydrogen peroxide (within the expiration date) along with a common turkey baster on hand for inducing vomiting in non-brachycephalic dogs. Again, only do this if advised by the expert.
Insure Your Pets
Despite all of the precautions taken above, your curious pet may still find a way to consume something that they are not supposed to. Get added peace of mind by securing accident and illness insurance for your pet. Park Insurance is proud to offer comprehensive pet insurance through our partner Pets Plus Us. Click here to learn more about this program and receive a preferred rate of 5% OFF protection for your furry family members.
Since awareness is the key to preventing unintentional poisonings in the home we ask that you share this article with your friends, family, coworkers, and online connections. Feel free to use the hashtag #CheckForPoisons when doing so on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter.