More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the 57 poison control centers across the country, Poison Prevention Week Council officials announced.
More than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home. The majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than six years old. And, poisonings are one of the leading causes of death among adults.
The U.S. Congress established National Poison Prevention Week on September 16, 1961. This week, March 17-23 National Poison Prevention Week.
National Poison Prevention Week, the third week in March each year, is a week nationally designated to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them.
According to the American Association of Poison Centers, children younger than 6 years old account for about half of the calls placed to poison centers.
The Environmental Protection Agency observes National Poison Prevention Week each year to increase awareness of the danger to children of poisonings from pesticides and household products.
To help ensure the safety of your home and community, the Environmental Protection Agency offers the following tips:
What chemical-containing products are in your home?
Household products should be kept in a locked cabinet and out of children's reach. Common products that could seriously harm a child if ingested include:
- Bath and kitchen disinfectants and sanitizers, including bleach.
- Household cleaning or maintenance products, such as drain cleaner, paints, or glues.
- Automotive products stored around the home, such as anti-freeze or windshield washer fluid.
- Health or beauty care products such as medicines, hair and nail products.
- Roach sprays and baits.
- Insect repellents.
- Rat and other rodent poisons.
- Weed killers.
- Products used to kill mold or mildew.
- Flea and tick shampoos, powders, and dips for pets.
- Swimming pool chemicals.
What can you do to prevent poisonings?
Poisoning incidents can be prevented if parents and caregivers remember to lock up products that could potentially harm children.
Simple steps you can take to prevent poisonings from occurring in your home:
- Always store pesticides and other household chemical products in a locked cabinet or garden shed away from both children and pets.
- Read the product label first and follow the directions to the letter.
- Use the safest possible cleaning products. Look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) label on products.
- Never leave pesticides and other household chemical products unattended when you are using them.
- Re-close pesticides and other household chemical products if interrupted during application (e.g., phone call, doorbell, etc.).
- Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after use.
- Never transfer pesticides and other household chemical products to containers that may be mistaken for food or drink.
- Remove children, pets, toys, bottles and pacifiers before applying pesticides (inside or outside the home). Follow label directions to determine when children and pets can return to the area that has been treated.
- To protect children and pets from exposure to mouse and rat poison, use products with a tamper-resistant bait station.
- Never use illegal pesticides. Always look for an EPA Registration ID number on the label. (Example: EPA Reg. No. 500-123456).
- Get your home and child tested for lead.
- Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home.
- Program the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone. Parents should know what to do if they suspect their child has come in contact with a poison. Immediately contact the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 (this national number will direct callers to their local Poison Center), unless the child is unconscious, not breathing, or having seizures, in which case parents should call 9-1-1.
- Keep away from children lamps and candles that contain lamp oil, which can be very toxic if ingested.
- Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and dispose of unneeded and outdated drugs.
- Keep all medications and hazardous chemicals in original, labeled, child-resistant containers. Lock them out of sight and reach of children. When products are in use, never let young children out of your sight.
- No matter how hard it may be to get your child to take medication, never refer to it as candy. While you may think this psychology works, your child may come across medicines on his own and take them, thinking they are sweet treats.
- Don't take your own medication(s) in front of children. Children mimic adult behavior, and they may copy you by taking your medications, not knowing any better.