National Poison Prevention Week
National Poison Prevention Week began March 20, and the New Mexico Department of Health reminds parents to store hazardous materials (including cleaning products and medication) out of children’s reach.
“It is natural for children to explore their surroundings, but very dangerous if they’re getting under the kitchen sink or into the medicine cabinet where hazardous chemicals and adult medicines are kept,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres. “Almost half of poison exposures for children under the age of 5 are caused by medicine.”
Approximately 100 children (14 years of age and younger) die each year from unintentional poisoning, and poison control centers in the United States receive 1.2 million calls annually as a result of accidental poisoning of children ages 5 and under.
Nearly 90 percent of these toxic exposures occur in the home, and 56 percent involve non-pharmaceutical products, such as cosmetics, cleansers, personal care products, plants, pesticides, art supplies, alcohol and toys. Active supervision and childproofing your home are necessary to keeping children safe.
Safe Kids New Mexico reminds parents to learn the toll-free poison control center number: 1-800-222-1222 and to keep it near every phone in your home and programmed it into cell phones.
“This number connects you to the local poison control center from anywhere in the United States,” said Safe Kids New Mexico coordinator, John McPhee. “If a child is choking, having trouble breathing or having a seizure, call 911 instead.
Follow the 911 operator’s instructions. Do not induce vomiting or give the child any fluid or medication unless directed.”
Safe Kids New Mexico offers these additional tips
- Store potentially poisonous household products and medications locked out of children’s sight and reach, and dispose of them properly when they are no longer needed.
- Read labels to find out what is poisonous. Potential hazards include makeup, medicine, plants, cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies and beer, wine and liquor.
- Never leave potentially poisonous household products unattended while in use.
- Be aware of poisons that may be in your handbag. Store handbags out of the reach of young children.
- Buy child-resistant packages when available. Keep products in their original packages to avoid confusion. Read labels to learn if a product is poisonous and for first aid information.
- Lock up potential poisons out of sight and reach of kids. This includes makeup, medicine, plants, cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies, and beer, wine and liquor.
- Never leave kids alone with an open container of something you wouldn’t want them to eat or drink. A child can be poisoned in a matter of seconds.
- Don’t refer to medicine or vitamins as candy and don’t involve children as “helpers” with adult medications.
- Choose medicines and products that have child-resistant caps and when you are giving medicine to your children, follow dosage directions carefully.
Dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs as directed on the pill bottle label or mixing them with undesirable substances like coffee grounds or cat litter before disposing of them in trash.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that builds up around fuel-burning appliances and cars in garages. It can make a child seriously ill in concentrations that would barely affect an adult.
- Discuss these precautions with grandparents and caregivers. They may have medications that can be very dangerous to children and their homes might not be as well childproofed as yours.
For more information about poison prevention, call 505-827-2582 or visit www.safekids.org. Safe Kids New Mexico works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. Its members include the New Mexico Trauma Center Network, the Indian Health Service, the New Mexico Pediatric Society, and numerous police departments, fire departments and other organizations.