March 10, 2003
National Poison Prevention Week Warns
New Parents to Lock Up Medicines and Household Chemicals
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. At
a news conference today, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC),
the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and the Poison
Prevention Week Council urged parents to use products with child-resistant
packaging; keep medicines and chemicals locked up away from children; and
when needed call the new national toll-free number for poison control
centers: 1-800-222-1222 if a possible poisoning occurs.
"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
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:
Keep all chemicals and medicines locked up and out of sight.
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.
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
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.
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.
Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine. Check the dosage
Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer to medicine as "medicine,"
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