Preventing Accidental Poisoning (poisons)

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Prevent Accidental Poisonings - National Poison Prevention Week

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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National Poison Prevention Week educates and informs consumers of the dangers associated with unintentional poisonings. How safe is your home? Have you taken the precautions necessary to keep items that may be poisonous out of the reach of children? Many homes who only have children as occasional visitors forget about how inquisitive children are.

Young children are curious and use their home environment as a classroom – a place to learn and explore. Exploring for younger children is often done by mouthing objects which puts them at greater risk of unintentional poisonings. For young children who are unable to read, a bottle of orange-scented household cleaner may be mistaken for orange juice; the medicine in the pill container can look like small candies; and baby oil, which can be deadly, if ingested, can resemble a clear drink.

Every day thousands of new parents assume the responsibility of caring for and protecting a child. Many of these first-time caregivers are unaware of the dangers of unintentional poisonings often related to medicines and household products commonly found in the home, such as personal care products, over-the-counter pain relievers, and cleaning substances.

To prevent these incidents, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends the following safety steps:

  • Keep all household chemicals and medicines locked up, out of sight and out of reach.
  • Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container securely after each use. Some products also come in child-resistant blister cards, which avoid the need to re-secure.
  • Call 800-222-1222 immediately, in case of poisoning.
  • 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.
  • Keep items in original containers.
  • Leave the original labels on all products, and read the label before using to understand correct use and dosage.
  • Do not put decorative lamps and candles containing lamp oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic, if ingested by young children.
  • Always turn the light on when giving or taking medicine. 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.

The most dangerous poison exposures involve medicines, cleaning products, automotive products, hydrocarbons (gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluid, furniture polish), and pesticides. Poisoning is a family matter, affecting all ages. Take time to make your home safe for your family and visitors.

For more information on poison prevention visit .

Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated March 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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