Does Your Classroom
Pass The Test?
State Poison Control Center Provides Poisoning Safety Tips to School Staff
From taking mom’s vitamins or dad’s Viagra to school to share with friends to eating hand sanitizer to coming into contact with cleaning chemicals like disinfectants, the NJ Poison Experts are here to help,” says Diane Calello, MD, NJ Poison Control Center Executive and Medical Director, Rutgers NJ Medical School. The poison control center is the go-to resource for poison-related exposures and poison prevention information; providing fast, expert, medical treatment advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. “The best way for teachers and other school personnel to be prepared for a potential poisoning emergency is to save the Poison Help number in their cell phones and have it posted throughout their schools/classrooms,” says Dr. Calello.
While it’s an exciting time for children, “back-to-school” is usually extremely stressful for school staff. The hectic nature of this time lends itself to potential mishaps during the school day. It’s easy to become distracted; leaving opportunities for children to act quickly and possibly get themselves involved in something dangerous. Anything can be a poison if used in the wrong way or in the wrong amount. Does your classroom pass the test? Find out using this Poison Safety Checklist.
As we know, the natural curiosity of a child will never just be contained to the home. Since children spend most of their day at school, exposures are likely to happen during school hours. The good news is that school-based poisoning exposures/injuries are preventable! The NJ Poison Control Center offers teachers, school nurses, and administrators a few simple ways to promote poison safety in their schools/classrooms; ensuring a safe learning environment each day.
1. Be prepared for an emergency. Save the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, in your cell phone and display it throughout your school and classroom. If you suspect a student or staff member was exposed to a dangerous substance or if you have questions or concerns about a product’s safety, call poison control at 1-800-222-1222. Calls are free, confidential, and answered by experts, 24/7/365. Make sure students know where to look for the number as well. If a person is unconscious, not breathing, or having a seizure, call 9-1-1.
2. Practice safe use and storage habits. Ideally, the following items should be locked up and kept out of sight and reach of children. Keep all products in their original containers with the label intact. Make a habit of reviewing the label on all potentially hazardous substances or products prior to use.
· All medicines and pharmaceuticals, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.
· Cleaning supplies, especially those containing chlorine bleach and ammonia. Never mix cleaning chemicals – it may create highly toxic fumes!
· Pesticides and insect repellents. Children should never handle or apply these products. Insect repellent should never be applied to children’s hands. When returning indoors, wash children’s hands with soap and water.
· Button batteries, such as those found in certain toys and key fobs (keyless entry remotes for cars).
· Personal care products, especially hand sanitizers.
3. Be aware of outdoor poisoning hazards. During recess, sporting events, and other outdoor activities, students can get into some dangerous situations with outdoor hazards, so be prepared with these prevention and treatment recommendations:
· Insect bites and stings: If you have a first aid kit available, disinfect the wound with antiseptic towelettes and apply antibiotic ointment, if available. If necessary, apply direct pressure to the wound in order to stop the bleeding. Call Poison Help and a poison center specialist will help you determine if the exposed person needs medical treatment.
· Plants and mushrooms: The list of plants that may be poisonous or cause severe skin irritation is long, and varies by the region where you live. Ensure you are aware of any potentially toxic plants growing around your school’s property or in your classroom. Children should never be allowed to play with or eat plants, berries, flowers or mushrooms.
· Pesticides: Never use outdoor-use pesticides indoors. Pesticides meant for outdoor use can be more toxic than those designed for indoor use are. For more information about selecting, storing, using, or disposing of insect repellents, antimicrobials, and other pesticides, call NPIC (National Pesticide Information Center) at (800) 858-7378 or visit their website.
Every minute counts in poisoning situations so do not take chances by either waiting until symptoms occur or looking up information on the Internet. A quick response by both the caller and the poison center expert can make a difference in preventing serious injury and saving lives.
Help is Just a Phone Call Away!
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– New Jersey Poison Information & Education System