Poison Prevention Starts at Home
Each year, more than two million accidental poisonings are reported to some 57 poison control centers across the country. At least 90 percent of these occur at home, and more than half involve children ages five and younger. While many children are familiar with the skull-and-crossbones symbol that warns of poisonous substances, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines almost anything used in the wrong way as potentially poisonous.
According to pediatrician Dr. Heather Winesett, St. Luke's Pediatric Associates, young children learn by exploring. "Kids are naturally curious, but they don't have a filter that differentiates between a yogurt malted milk ball and a mothball," she says. "That's why it's so important to safety-proof not just your house, but also your garage, cars and even your purse."
Dr. Winesett recommends that parents and caregivers:
- Keep all vitamins and medications out of sight, out of reach, and in their original containers (with safety caps)
- Put all cosmetics, perfumes, colognes, nail polish, polish remover and other personal care items in a secure drawer or cabinet
- Store cleaning products, mothballs, insect repellent and rodent poisons in a locked cabinet
- Store lawn care products, gasoline and paint products out of reach
- Keep alcoholic beverages out of reach
- Never leave young children alone
National Poison Prevention Week
To increase awareness and prevention of unintentional poisonings, the Poison Prevention Week Council has designated the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. Now in its 50th year, the week-long event takes place March 18-24. In case of a suspected poisoning, call 911 or the Poison Help hotline at 800.222.1222.