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When it comes to first aid information, household product labels often don't tell you what you need to know. A new study shows that household product labels often give the wrong advice about poisoning. Sometimes, they give no advice at all.
A study published more than thirty years ago found the same problems. When it came to treating someone who swallowed a product, or got it in the eyes or on the skin, information was missing, misleading, or even totally wrong.
When the information about treating an emergency was there, it could be hard to find. First aid instructions - when provided - were in many different places: front, side, back, bottom, even under the label.
Emergency contact information was not consistent. Many labels provided no contact information at all. Some said to call a doctor or 911. Others said to call Poison Control. Yet others said to call the manufacturer.
The bottom line: household product labels are NOT good sources of first aid instructions. What should you do if someone is poisoned by a household product?
The best advice? Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. The online tool was developed by Poison specialists will answer your call. This expert will be a nurse or pharmacist with special training in toxicology. A physician will be standing by. Poison Control will tell you exactly what to do, right then and there - 24 hours a day. Or, if you prefer guidance online, use the webPOISONCONTROL® tool, developed by Poison Control experts.
Rose Ann Gould Soloway, RN, BSN, MSEd, DABAT emerita
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Cantrell FL, Nordt SP, Krauss JR. Inconsistencies in emergency instructions on common household product labels. J Community Health. Published online April 2013. DOI:10.1007/s10900-013-9684-y.
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