The Emergency-Free Home - Reducing the risk of medicine poisoning

Following certain safety rules can help ensure against the possibility of medicine poisoning. The rules are most important in homes where there are very young children or very old family members.

Medicines or preparations that are potentially harmful should be kept in a locked cabinet. If there are a number of such preparations in the home, they should probably be kept in a separate, locking storage place. If this is not possible, they should at least be stored out of the reach of young children.

Other safety rules are simply common sense. For example, one should never transfer a medicine into an un-labeled container. Old medicine containers should be thrown away. Special care should be taken with the dosages of both liquid and solid drugs. Sleeping tablets, tranquilizers, and even aspirin can, if taken in overdose, seriously harm the body.

If children resist taking their medicine, parents should never encourage them by pretending that the medicine is candy. Nor should parents rely too heavily on anti-tamper packaging. The shrink-wraps, push-and-turn bottle caps, foil inner seals, and other anti-tamper devices are valuable but not foolproof.

In any case of medicine poisoning, do not wait to seek help. Stay calm, call your physician or the nearest hospital or poison control center, and get instructions on correct procedures. If you take a poisoned family member to a hospital or elsewhere for help, you should bring with you the container(s) from which pills or liquid were taken. Do not administer salt and water to induce vomiting; the mixture is potentially fatal.

Dangers of Alternative Medicines and Quack Remedies

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on “alternative” medicinal supplies and equipment. In too many cases the quack remedies not only do not help, they may do serious harm.

Examples of items that flood the marketplace but should not be found in your home are numerous. Among the many unproved procedures and preparations are hair analysis and cytotoxic tests for food allergies; oral chelation therapy, with vitamin and mineral capsules or tables for cardiovascular disease; and various “metabolic” programs, “non-toxic holistic medicines,” radical dietary changes and regimens, and programs calling for massive doses of vitamins.

Still others include detoxification and drastic “cleansing” enemas, herbal mixtures to be applied to a sore or inflamed area, immune boosters that once were sold as cancer cures and now are promoted as treatments for AIDS, and laetrile, an unproven cancer treatment.

The following guidelines can help protect your family from such nonef-fective medications:

  1. • Beware of testimonials in ads or on labels that purportedly come from satisfied users.
  2. • Do not believe any promises of “money-back guarantees.” They are rarely dependable.
  3. • Be wary of advertising that claims a product is effective against numerous ailments.
  4. • Be wary of promises of a “cure” or of “complete relief from pain.
  5. • Discount any “FDA-tested” or “FDA-recommended” testimonials. Federal law states that the Food and Drug Administration cannot be mentioned as giving marketing approvals.
  6. • Beware of mentions of “natural” ingredients. The definition of natural is elusive, and the word is often abused.
  7. • Think twice before buying anything that is advertised with such terms as these: “amazing,” “vanish,” “discovery,” “breakthrough,” “painless,” “exclusive,” or “instant.”
  8. • Finally, warns the FDA, “If the product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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