March 17-24 Recognized as National Poison Prevention Awareness Week
Deepa Vasireddy, MD, First-Year Pediatrics Resident, The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, NJ
Every day, more than 300 children under the age of 19 in the United States are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned. Most of these poisonings generally occur in children younger than age 5.
Toxic ingestions include many standard household items from cold and cough preparations, vitamins, antibiotics and acetaminophen to drain cleaners, alcohol and cosmetics, which can be easily accessible in many homes.
National Poison Prevention Awareness Week, recognized during the week of March 17-24, serves as a reminder of the steps we can take to ensure the safety of children.
Below are tips to protect children from accidental poisonings.
- Keep all chemicals out-of-sight and out-of-reach in child-proofed locked cabinets.
- Keep all chemicals in their original containers and leave the labels on.
- Do not leave handbags or any other items that may contain these substances lying around the house.
- Do not store such substances in containers other than the ones they come in, such as storing drain cleaners in old juice cartons. Children associate such items with drinks or food items.
- Get rid of expired medications and safely dispose of chemicals no longer needed in the house.
- Do not take it for granted that a container is child-proofed and allow a child to play with it as there is always a possibility that they may figure out a way to open it.
In the event of accidental ingestion, take the following steps immediately.
- If your child is awake and alert, call the nationwide Poison Control Center at 1- 800-222-1222. If your child’s condition is deteriorating, call 911 immediately.
- Have the following information available when calling the nationwide Poison Control Center:
- Age and weight of the child
- Route of the poisoning, i.e. oral, inhaled or skin contact
- At what time it happened
- The current condition the child is in
- If you tried anything at home to help the child
- Your location
Do not take the possibility of a poisoning lightly. Prevent accidental ingestions by making your home a safer place for your children.
March 6, 2013