CPSC Warns that 9 Out of 10 Unintentional Child Poisonings Occur in the Home

March 18, 2009
Release Number: 09-159

Each year, unintentional poisonings from consumer products commonly found in the home kill about 30 children and prompt more than 2 million calls to the nation's poison control centers. More than 90% of these calls involve poisonings in the home. On average, each year an estimated 80,000 children are treated in hospital emergency departments for unintentional poisonings.

This year’s 48th observance of National Poison Prevention Week, which is March 15-21, aims to help prevent those childhood poisonings. As one of the longest running public health campaigns, National Poison Prevention Week has contributed to the more than 80% reduction in the number of deaths related to poisonings (down from 216 in 1972). While there has been a significant decrease in deaths, studies show that unintentional child poisonings still remain a serious concern.

Children younger than age 5 account for the majority of the non-fatal poisonings. A recent review conducted by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff found that 70% of poisonings involve children 1 to 2 years of age. Oral prescription drugs, non prescription drugs and supplements were involved in more than half of the incidents.

“Awareness and action are the keys to preventing unintentional poisonings,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “Children act fast. So do poisons. That’s why we urge parents, grandparents and caregivers to have layers of poison prevention protection in the home.”

CPSC recommends that parents and caregivers immediately take these three steps. First, keep medicines and household chemicals in their original, child-resistant containers. Second, store the potentially hazardous substances up and out of a child’s sight and reach. And lastly, keep the National toll-free poison control center telephone number, 800-222-1222, handy in case of a poison emergency.

Additional poison prevention tips to check during National Poison Prevention Week:

-When hazardous products are in use, never let young children out of your sight, even if you must take them along when answering the phone or doorbell.

-Keep items closed and in their original containers.

-Leave the original labels on all products, and read the label before using.

-Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine so that you can see what you are taking. Check the dosage every time.

-Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer to medicine as "medicine," not "candy."

-Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicines.

-Do not put decorative lamps and candles that contain lamp oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic if ingested by young children.