National Poison Prevention Week Warns New Parents to Lock Up Medicines and Household Chemicals

March 10, 2003
Release Number: 03-092

National Poison Prevention Week is alerting a new generation of parents that each year there are approximately 30 deaths and nearly 1 million incidents in which children under 5 years of age are exposed to potential poisons.

"We know that child-resistant packaging saves lives, and we encourage all adults to use it," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "But this special packaging is child-resistant, not child-proof, so you also need to keep medicines and chemicals locked up."

The goal of National Poison Prevention Week, this year held March 16-22, is to help reduce the annual toll of poisonings to children under 5 years old. The nation's poison control centers receive more than one million calls each year about unintentional poisonings of children under 5 years of age from medicines and household chemicals.

Douglas Borys, a pharmacist, Director of the Central Texas Poison Center and President of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, emphasized the importance of the new toll-free number for poison control centers. "In the first year of use, the new national number for poison centers has received almost one million calls. If you need poison help, call 1-800-222-1222 immediately."

Peter Mayberry, Chairman of the 37-member Poison Prevention Week Council, said, "We believe that almost every child poisoning could be prevented! Parents, grandparents, and other caregivers need to remember that it can only take an instant for a poisoning to occur when children are able to reach household chemicals and medicines."

The CPSC requires child-resistant packaging for 30 categories of medicines and household chemicals. "For aspirin and oral prescription medicine, special packaging has saved the lives of more than 900 children since the early 1970s," Stratton said.

Here are the basic poison prevention tips that every person should check during National Poison Prevention Week:

1. Keep all chemicals and medicines locked up and out of sight.

2. Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container securely after each use or choosing child-resistant blister cards, which do not need to be re-secured.

3. Call 800-222-1222 immediately in case of poisoning. Keep on hand a bottle of ipecac syrup but use it only if the poison center instructs you to induce vomiting.

4. When 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.

5. Keep items in original containers.

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

7. 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.

8. Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine. Check the dosage every time.

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

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

To get a free packet of poison prevention publications, write to "Poison Prevention Packet," CPSC, Washington, DC 20207, or visit www.poisonprevention.org