Pick your poison – and how to prevent this in the first place.

by Liam

These days, exposure to even the most common and familiar household products can lead to poisoning (So can scorning your most trusted eunuch adviser, apparently). Poisoning occurs in many shapes and forms but it is of the utmost importance to have an emergency hotline available.

But, as the age old saying goes: prevention is the best cure. And to ensure something is preventable you need to prepare accordingly.

So, it’d be within your best interest to have some basic knowledge on the topic should you ever find yourself confronted with it. Also, you’ll find some emergency lines included within this article as a reference.

In the event of poisoning, contact the poison control centre immediately as emergency steps need to be taken before leaving for the hospital. One should always follow prompts when dealing with life threatening situations.

According to Parent24, there are four different types of poisoning that one should be worried about and they are listed as follows:

ingested poisons (By means of swallowing) poisons inhalation (By action of breathing in) absorbed poisons (through the skin or mucous membranes) injected poisons As such, there are a variety of harmless looking products lying around your house that could be potentially life threatening.

To name a few examples, there are carbon monoxide (long-faced grim risk and it’s the leading cause of poisoning death) and derives from plenty sources in and around your living space. Toothpaste (when ingested in large amounts it has the potential to be deadly), air conditioners (can cause heart problems and lack of oxygen to your lungs and cells and potentially kill you) , storage chests could cause hazard to curious kids that decide to lock themselves in confined spaces.

One of the most common causes of poisoning would be through household plants. These aesthetically pleasing and deceptively beautiful decorations can pose a great harm to those who are not familiar with their genus.

According to the University of Pretoria, these are some of the threatening and most dangerous, plants found in your home or garden:

Ink Berry (Cestrum Laevigatum) Devil’s snare (Datura spp) Poison leaf or gifblaar (Dichapetalum cymosum) Big sage (Lantana Camara) We suggest you familiarise yourself with the full article as the above merely scratches the surface.

You must also realise that the plants mentioned above not only pose as a threat to humans, but may additionally be poisonous to some animals.

There are different severities of poisoning. The Poisoning Severity Score (PSS) illustrates this practically. But a breakdown of some of the symptoms include skin irritation, rashes, regurgitation of heaving (these cases should be handled and treated with immediate effect), and that there are five severity grades:

NONE (0): No symptoms or signs related to poisoning. MINOR (1): Mild, transient and spontaneously resolving symptoms. MODERATE (2): Pronounced or prolonged symptoms. SEVERE (3): Severe or life-threatening symptoms. FATAL (4): Death. So, how should one react when you suspect poisoning?

It is crucial not to waste any time when you suspect a loved one or a pet has been poisoned or is acting in an unusual manner.

When one first notices the signs of poisoning, the victim may be experiencing signs of vomiting, foaming out the mouth, fainting, or seizures.

It is important to keep the patient calm and to seek medical assistance immediately. Comfort the patient with positive words whilst waiting for your nearest emergency service’s response. If possible, remove all contaminated paraphernalia and remove the poisonous item from the victim’s person.

Not all victims are fortunate enough to survive before emergency services arrive, as there are different doses and severity of poison. If the victim is not moving, or is unconscious, it may be best to perform CPR – it may be what lies between life and death for the victim.

The beauty of some of the most charming plants come at a high price but remember that a life is priceless.

(Source: Everyday poisons in your Home by HomeInsurance.org.)

Some additional tips I felt were worth sharing:

Be aware of the correct dosage when administering medicine to any adult or toddler. Also, it’s better to administer medicine after a meal in a well lit environment. Keep all medicine in a safety cabinet higher up away from young children. While your child is young, you should explain to them that medicine must not be used without adult supervision, nor to use more than the recommended dose of medicine as prescribed by a medical practitioner. Keep poisons such as rat poison, ant poison and moth balls away from the floor if you have animals or children within the vicinity. Also, ensure that all chemical based cleaning products and alcohol based liquids in a safety cabinet or in a locked storage compartment. Always be prepared and strive to make your home a child/pet-friendly, safe environment. Take your child and pet proofing measures seriously and take extra precaution when dealing with life threatening items. Keep emergency numbers on your fridge and have them visible at all times. Install smoke and CO detectors around your home and make sure all gas cylinders have safety features when unused. You should also consider keeping a first aid kit around. Remember that prevention is always the best cure. And diligent preparation ensures successful prevention.

Poison Information Centres:

Gauteng – Unitas (toll free) 0800 111 229

Western Cape – AfriTox Poison Information Helpline: 0860 555 777

Kwazulu-Natal – Saint Augustine’s Hospital Durban (toll free): 0800 333 444

Free State – Universities (Poison Centre): 051 401 3111

You should know that we are always on standby for your emergency, even in the event of poisoning. Our team will ensure an emergency vehicle is dispatched to your destination with immediate effect to see to your medical emergency and restore you back to safety. Call our twenty four hour emergency line on 011 801 0000.

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