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FOR RELEASE: April 3, 2001
Overlooked Poison Risks
When Angela and Keith Crary's 3-year-old son Brandon was unintentionally poisoned recently, it happened in much the same way that many childhood accidents do -- when parents or caregivers are distracted for just a few seconds.
Although Brandon took a gulp of gasoline that had been placed in a soft drink can, he has completely recovered and, in fact, is lucky to be alive. Because they have been given a second chance, Angela wants to use this opportunity to warn parents about how quickly a tragedy can occur.
Angela says the entire family was in the garage where her husband was working on a go-cart. The gas had been taken from a lawnmower and it was going to be poured into the go-cart. “The can was there and it was handy,” she said, adding, “Keith feels horrible about what happened.”
The can was actually on top of the family's freezer and out of children's reach -- until Angela moved it to place some food in the freezer. “I set the can on a nearby shelf and that's when Brandon picked it up. I didn't even know he had touched it until I heard him coughing and gasping and saw him turning red,” she said.
“Parents need to know to never put anything poisonous in something that was once OK for kids to have . . . because they have no clue. Parents should always think about the 'what-ifs',” she said. Fortunately, after an overnight stay in the hospital where milk was administered and Brandon was closely monitored for developing pneumonia, the child was sent home. “He's very lucky. I just prayed he would be as good as he was before,” said Angela. An Oklahoma child who was involved in a similar incident with gasoline a few years ago was not so lucky. The poisoning proved fatal. But gasoline is just one of many poisonous substances that parents and caregivers need to keep out of children's reach.
Childhood poisoning is a hazard often overlooked by parents and caregivers. Even innocent-looking items like household plants and vitamin supplements can poison a child in less than a minute. Annually, more than 1.1 million unintentional poisonings among children ages 5 and under are reported to U.S. poison control centers. In 1998, nearly 70 children ages 14 were fatally poisoned. The Oklahoma Poison Control Center dealt with 29,146 human exposures last year. Of those, nearly 60 percent involved children under age 5.
“Children ages 5 and under are particularly vulnerable to poisoning due to their curiosity and natural desire to put everything into their mouths,” said Martha Collar, coordinator of the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition.
SAFE KIDS, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, offers these additional poison prevention tips:
If a poisoning does occur, here are some guidelines to follow:
When calling, bring the container of the ingested substance to the phone with you. Call even if you are not sure that the child was poisoned. The poison center staff or emergency personnel will determine if you need to do anything for the child. Most poisonings can be successfully managed at home.
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