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How to avoid hazardous mix-ups with lookalike poisons

Dr. Lindsay Shaack Rothstein from Florida Poison Information Center joins us to talk more about lookalike poisoning.

Can you spot the difference between a mint and medicine? Apple Juice and floor cleaner? Glass cleaner and a sports drink?

Children are especially at risk of lookalike poisoning.

Dr. Lindsay Shaack Rothstein with the Poison Information Center talked with News4Jax about the most common mix-ups people make and what tops the list of Poison Control calls.

“There are illicit substances looking like pain medications or other blood pressure medications out there,” Rothstein said. “We have cold medications that look like candies, Sudafed and M&Ms.”

Gummy vitamins look like other gummy candies, and it’s really hard to tell which is which.

“And this is where we have acetaminophen tablets compared to sugarcoated candy,” Rothstein said.

And the list goes on. Experts at the Florida Poison Information Center have seen

  • A 30% increase in children 5 and under getting into cough and cold medications
  • The biggest jump, in that same age group, 130% increase in kids eating edible marijuana products

So what’s the answer? How do parents and families make sure that everyone is safe and nothing gets mixed up?

Rothstein said one important rule of thumb is that if you dilute a cleaning solution with water, try to keep it in the original container labeled as a cleaning product or clearly label it and store it away.

“Always keep cleaning products and medications up and away, locked from children,” Rothstein said. “Never take medicine in front of your kids. Your kids will assume that it is something that they can also take. Never call medicine candy.”

Rothstein also recommended not storing alcohol in unlabeled bottles because the clear alcohols, in particular, could look like water to a child.

Another safety tip from the Poison Center: If you can’t eat or drink it, don’t put it in the refrigerator.

Adults can make mistakes too. Experts say turn on the lights and read the labels before taking anything

The Florida Poison Information Center has a 24/7 free hotline if you ever have questions -- or an emergency. The number is 1-800-222-1222.


About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.