National Poison Prevention Week

Why is it necessary to devote one whole week every March to promoting poison prevention?

A look at the numbers provides an explanation. In 2016, the Indiana Poison Center received 55,528 requests for assistance (averaging 152.1 cases per day). In addition, the staff of the Poison Center placed 84,615 calls to patients and health care professionals for follow-up (averaging 231.8 calls per day). The goal of National Poison Prevention Week is to raise awareness about things that can potentially be poisonous and to teach ways to keep children and others safe from poisons. 

As a young child’s mobility increases, so does his or her ability to reach for a dangerous product. “Young children constantly explore the world around them, touching and tasting everything they see,” says Dr. James Mowry, Director of the Indiana Poison Center. “The goal of National Poison Prevention Week is to raise awareness about what kinds of things can potentially be poison and to teach ways to keep children and others safe from poisons.”

During National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25, the Indiana Poison Center encourages you to take some simple steps to help keep your family safe:

  • Choose products and medicines with child resistant packaging whenever it is available
  • Replace child-resistant caps tightly every time you give or take medicine or use a product
  • Lock medicines and household products away from children – products placed up high may not be secure since children climb
  • Return medicine and household products to a locked storage place immediately after use
  • Always read the label before giving or taking a medicine or using household products – never guess about how to use a product
  • Take medicines where children can’t watch – they learn by imitating
  • Put the number for the Indiana Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222 on or near every telephone.  Program the number into your cell phones.
  • Make sure babysitters and family members caring for your children also have the emergency number posted in their homes and programmed into their phones. 

Poison can be found everywhere. Items commonly found in and around the home can easily become a danger to young children if they are left in the open within easy reach. Such items include:

  • Medicines (prescription and over the counter)
  • Cleaning products (drain openers, toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, rust removers)
  • Automotive products (windshield washer fluid, antifreeze)
  • Hydrocarbons (gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, furniture polish, hair and body oils)
  • Pesticides, herbicides, insect repellents

According to Dr. Mowry, “There is no substitute for careful supervision, wherever children live or spend time.” At the same time, it’s important to realize that children are fast and curious so poisoning can happen in the home of even the most careful parent. It can take only seconds for a child to reach for cleaners, pesticides or medications, possibly resulting in serious injury or even death.  A young child should never be left alone with a dangerous product. And when not being used, dangerous products should be stored up and out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet. Call 1-800-222-1222 even if you just think that someone has been poisoned. Don’t wait to see if the person gets sick, call the experts at the Poison Center immediately.

Next entry: Medicine Safety