WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week (March 21-27, 2021), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) encourages consumers to “Prepare, Prevent, and Protect” their families from poisonings at home.
Nearly nine out of 10 unintentional poisonings occur in the home. This year, with families spending more time indoors due to COVID-19 restrictions, children, as well as isolated seniors, are at increased risk of injury or death from poisoning.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily routines, increasing the need for consumers to take stock of common poison dangers lurking at home and take preventive action to protect their families, especially children, from unintentional poisonings,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler.
Unintentional poisoning is one of the leading causes of injury among children. Even though these incidents can be prevented, thousands of children in the United States visit emergency rooms each year after consuming poisonous substances. In 2019, approximately 67,500 children under the age of five years ended up in emergency rooms due to unintended poisoning. About 85 percent of these incidents occurred in the home. The known sources most often include blood pressure medications, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antidepressants, Attention Deficit Disorder medications, dietary supplements, diphenhydramine, bleach, and laundry packets.
CPSC’s preliminary data from March through September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic found that hospital emergency room (ER) treatment rose sharply for severe injuries related to cleaning agents (84%) and soaps and detergents (60%) compared to the previous year.
The good news is child poisoning deaths have decreased by more than 80% since the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) went into effect in 1970. The PPPA requires manufacturers to secure certain medicines and hazardous household chemicals in child-resistant packaging. Under the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015 (CNPAA) liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes is also required to be in child-resistant packaging. Often sold in sweet flavors and bright colors that appeal to children, liquid nicotine is highly toxic if ingested or absorbed through the skin or eyes. In fact, ingestion of just small amounts of liquid nicotine can be extremely hazardous and even deadly to children. That is why, in accordance with the CNPPA, CPSC has warned vape shops and other retailers that selling liquid nicotine without proper packaging violates federal law.
National Poison Prevention Week is the perfect time to prepare, prevent and protect against unintentional poisonings at home. Here are some tips and resources to help keep your family safe from poison dangers:
- Do not store medications for convenience in unsecured containers. This presents a danger to children. Keep medicines closed tightly in their original bottles with child-resistant caps. Keep them stored securely away from children. The elderly also are at risk of mistaking medications.
- Unfinished or unused medicines should be discarded properly. Ask your local pharmacy or police department if they have a disposal kiosk for medications.
- Never call medicine “candy.”
- To avoid potential poisonings, always store liquid nicotine in its child-resistant packaging, tightly seal the container after each use, and keep it stored securely away from children.
Household Cleaning Products
- Keep household cleaning products, hand sanitizers, and other products that are sold in child-resistant packaging in their original packaging and stored securely away from children. The elderly also are at risk of ingesting household products.
- Single-load liquid laundry packets are highly concentrated, often colorful, and can look appetizing to children. Store laundry products securely away from children, and keep them sealed in their original packaging.
- Coin-size button batteries, used in all sorts of electronics--from remotes and gaming controllers to musical greeting cards--are a danger, if ingested. Do not leave products with accessible button batteries within reach of children. If the battery compartment does not have a screw closure or is damaged, keep the product out of reach; use a strong, secure tape (e.g., duct tape) to help secure a battery compartment.
- Fuel-burning products, such as portable generators, furnaces, and cars, produce carbon monoxide (CO), a deadly, colorless, and odorless gas. Always operate portable generators outside and away from open doors, windows and vents. Keep generators at least 20 feet away from the house.
Poison Help Line
- Always keep the National Poison Help Line Number, 800-222-1222, handy in case of a poison emergency.
To learn more about how you can reduce the risk of unintentional poisoning, check out CPSC’s Poison Prevention Safety Education Center. There, you can learn how to identify potential poison risks and take simple steps to prevent child exposure.
During National Poison Prevention Week, think #PreparePreventProtect!
About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years.
Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.
For lifesaving information: