Ajax warns of cannabis candies, e-cigs and cleaners around kids for Poison Prevention Week


Published March 25, 2022 at 3:51 pm

Edibles seized from an unlicensed dispensary by Toronto Police November 5 - Photo via TPS

Ajax launched its poison prevention week on Sunday and released a variety of safety tips to help residents keep themselves and their kids safe. A major theme of this year’s poison prevention week is safety around cannabis edibles.

Poison Prevention Week is a national initiative operated by Parachute, a Canadian charity with a mission to “create a safer Canada by preventing serious and fatal injuries through evidence-based solutions that advocate and educate.”

According to Parachute statistics from November 2020, 4,000 Canadians will die of an accidental poisoning every year. This rate continues to rise year-over-year, in part to the ongoing opioid crisis gripping communities across the country.

Statistics Canada reports a steep rise in accidental poisonings throughout the pandemic period, with a 500 person jump from 3,240 in 2019 to 3,770 in 2020. The last peak before the pandemic was in 2017, at the height of the opioid crisis which saw 3,230 deaths.

According to the StatsCan data, much of this mortality rise mostly impacts younger Canadians under 44 years old. Rates of accidental poisoning for Canadians older than 44 have dropped during the same period.

In addition to the increasing rates of overdoses of illicit drugs, deaths connected to alcohol use have also risen sharply in recent years from 325 in 2019 to 480 in 2020 for Canadians 24-44, and from 1,525 to 1,790 in 2020 in Canadians 45-64.

This number includes only deaths associated with alcohol-related medical conditions, such as cirrhosis or liver disease, and excludes accidental deaths such as those caused by drunk driving.

Unintentional poisoning has a higher likelihood of affecting children. Umbrella finds, “Children are particularly vulnerable to poisoning because of their small body size and lower weight.”

They stress that while parents likely know that medications, cleaners, vitamins, personal care products, car supplies, pesticides, and some plants pose poisoning risks, “several new poison issues have emerged in recent years that parents and caregivers should be aware of.”

Chief among Umbrella’s concerns are cannabis edibles, which often resemble common snacks and desserts. In November, Toronto Police seized a large haul of cannabis edibles packaged as recognizable brands, like Cheetos and Starburst.

Per an Umbrella survey of parents, 91 per cent were concerned about the ease of confusion for kids around edibles. However, only 27 per cent of parents reported they properly stored their edibles, and only 41 per cent were aware of how to properly store their edibles.

The Ontario Poison Centre, operated by Sick Kids Hospital, reports, “Symptoms can vary from none at all to a coma. Some children have required a breathing tube and have needed to be closely monitored in an intensive care setting,” after consumption.

OPC believes children have a more extreme reaction to cannabis for a variety of reasons, most especially their smaller size, and that “the drug behaves differently and performs different actions in a child’s body vs. an adult’s.”

They are more concerned with unregulated edibles like those seen above, as it is much more difficult to gauge the THC strength without specialized equipment, and contamination is more likely than in regulated edibles.

Based on the Umbrella findings, Ajax released some quick tips on avoiding poisoning, like;

  • Store all potential poisons locked up high, out of sight and out of reach of children.
  • Keep all medication in its original, labelled and child-resistant packaging.
  • Always read the label and check the dosage each time you give or take medicine.
  • Only take medications that are prescribed for you.
  • Keep purses/handbags up high and out of reach of young children. There are many items commonly carried in purses that can be poisonous (e.g. nicotine products, pills, hand sanitizers, cosmetics).

Like with cannabis edibles, Umbrella has found an increase in accidental poisonings from e-cigarette and vape fluid. Rates have steadily risen since the introduction of vapes in 2012.

Kids under five years old account for 44 per cent of these cases, and more than half of these resulted from swallowing the nicotine fluid.

Since the pandemic began, poisonings from hand sanitizer and cleaners have also been on the rise. Umbrella reports “significantly higher” calls to Poison Control from ingestion of them.  Laundry detergent pods are also of concern.

Umbrella put together a storage checklist to ensure parents know how best to keep potential poisons aways from kids.

In the event of a poisoning, safety experts recommend a set plan and foreknowledge of the the local poison control centre number, which Umbrella found only 18 per cent of parents know. In Ontario it is 1-800-268-9017.




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