Preventing Poisoning in Children

From the medicine cabinet to the garage, a number of harmful substances can be found in our home, which can be dangerous to our children, if ingested. We spoke with Dr. Dominic Chalut, doctor of Emergency Medicine and toxicologist at The Montreal Children’s Hospital, about these harmful situations and what we can do to avoid them.
What is the most common source of poisoning that you see in the emergency room?

What is the most common source of poisoning that you see in the emergency room?

Dr. Chalut: Materials and products that you have at home, so it could be pharmaceuticals, it could be cleaning agents. All of the different products that we have at home – kids in their exploratory phase will tend to grab them and sometimes they will put them in their mouths.

Is there a particular time in a child’s life when this is most common?

Is there a particular time in a child’s life when this is most common?

Dr. Chalut: I will say pre-schoolers are especially prone to put things in their mouth and come to the emergency room with possible intoxication.

As a parent, what can you do to avoid any situations where a child can harm themselves?

As a parent, what can you do to avoid any situations where a child can harm themselves?

Dr. Chalut: First of all, I think we need to keep all pharmaceuticals in boxes that are childproof. Also all of the other potentially toxic substances that you store underneath your sink, in your garage or in your shed should be out of reach of children. And eventually, when the children are old enough, you need to teach them the exact risks of certain substances. One last thing is that if you no longer need those products, please dispose of them safely.

What are some symptoms that we can look for if we do think our child has ingested some poison?

What are some symptoms that we can look for if we do think our child has ingested some poison?

Dr. Chalut: The most common occurrence is that the kid has almost no symptoms or he may have some abdominal pain, vomiting, or he may have a bit of diarrhea. I would say the best thing is to first of all call the Quebec Poison Centre. The can be reached at 811. Try to have the bottle or the container in your hand so that when you speak to the Poison Specialist, you will be able to identify the substance and tell them exactly what was ingested. Don’t make the kid throw up. We used to say that the first thing to do was to produce emesis or vomiting. Nowadays we tend to say don’t induce vomiting. Just wait for the Poison Centre. They will give you clear instructions. 

Trauma

Phone : 514-412-4400 ext. 23310

Fax : 514-412-4254

514-412-4499, Emergency Department (for patient transfer) / 514-412-4399 (fax)

Toxicology

Room: A 02.2227, Glen site

Phone : 514-412-4433
Fax : 514-412-4399