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Poison Prevention Week Highlights Dangers Lurking in the Home

PHOTO: During National Poison Prevention Week, Illinois experts are trying to get the word out about ways to prevent accidental poisonings in the home. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
PHOTO: During National Poison Prevention Week, Illinois experts are trying to get the word out about ways to prevent accidental poisonings in the home. Photo credit: M. Kuhlman.
March 19, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - While medications, household chemicals and cleaning products serve a purpose in any home, they also can be extremely dangerous, especially for little ones.

This is National Poison Prevention Week, and Carol DesLauriers, operations director for the Illinois Poison Center, said her organization receives more than 80,000 calls each year, almost half involving children under age 5.

"Poisoning is the second leading cause of injury-related death in the country," she said, "so everyone should be vigilant about being prepared for potential poisoning, with how to keep their home safe from poisoning and what to do if one occurs."

If poisoning is suspected, DesLauriers said, the most important first step is to call the Poison Prevention Hotline at 800-222-1222, where experts can help people determine if a poisoning has occurred and what action to take. For children ages 18 months to 36 months, she said poisoning is the No. 1 cause of injury-related hospitalization and death.

For maximum safety, she advised people to place all potentially harmful substances high enough to be out of children's reach. While child-resistant packaging is helpful, she said, it can't be relied on.

"You don't want to assume that because it's got a child safety cap that it's child proof. It's not true. You want to still keep it locked up and away," she said. "And always keep chemicals, cleaning products and medications in their original containers to avoid errors."

She also advised adults never to call medicine "candy" or make a game out of taking it, and teach children to always ask before eating or drinking anything. She said people should program the poison hotline phone number into their phones.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300 children across the nation are treated every day in an emergency department for ingesting something poisonous.

More information is online at illinoispoisoncenter.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL