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Keep Hazardous Household Items Away From Children

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
Keep Hazardous Household Items Away From Children

Common household products, such as bleach and laundry detergent were a leading cause of poisonings in New York City last year, prompting a fourth of all calls to the city’s Poison Control Center, the Health Department reported today. To mark National Poison Prevention Week, health officials urged parents and caregivers to protect young children by keeping these and other toxic substances safely out of reach. The city’s Poison Control Center received nearly 70,000 calls in 2008, 37% of which were for children under five. About 90% of poisonings occur in the home.

While the majority of poison-related hospitalizations result from ingesting medications, most calls to the Poison Control Center involve the ingestion of common household products. “Keep cleaners, medicines and cosmetics out of children’s reach or locked in cabinets,” said Dr. Robert Hoffman, Director of the Poison Control Center. “And if your child is exposed to something dangerous, call 212-POISONS right away for help.”

Top Reasons for Calls to Poison Control Center for Children Under Five (2008)

Hazard - Examples - Number of Calls

1. Cosmetic/personal care - hand soap, shampoo - 2,152
2. Household Cleaners - Bleach, ammonia, detergent - 1,686
3. Analgesics - ibuprofen, acetaminophen - 1,511
4. Foreign Bodies - silica packets from bags/shoes - 1,498
5. Topical - diaper rash cream, petroleum jelly - 1,225
6. Vitamins - tablets - 641
7. Pesticide/Rodenticides - bait pellets - 588
8. Arts/Crafts - crayons, glue - 517
9. Cough & Cold - cough syrup, cold medicine - 488
10. Antihistamines - tablets - 427

Poisoning prevention: What you should do to keep your family safe

Most poisonings are preventable. Parents and caregivers should take the following steps to poison-proof their homes:

* Identify the things inside and outside your home that are poisons.

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* Keep poisons out of children’s reach and use cabinet safety locks.

* Keep household products in their original containers and make sure bottles are labeled.

* Use child-resistant containers. Be sure they are closed.

* Never keep non-food items with food.

* Install carbon monoxide detectors in sleeping areas.

* Keep plants out of children’s reach.

* Post the Poison Control Center number near all telephones and be sure that babysitters and family members know where the number is posted.

Poisoning in kids: How to know and what to do

Some signs of a poisoning are:

* an open container nearby
* pills, berries, etc. in the mouth
* strange odor on the breath
* burns around the mouth
* upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or unconsciousness