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Preventing Poisonings: Lock Up Those Meds

Brightly-colored medication might be mistaken for candy, a reminder to parents for Illinois' Poison Prevention Month. (cdc.gov)
Brightly-colored medication might be mistaken for candy, a reminder to parents for Illinois' Poison Prevention Month. (cdc.gov)
March 14, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Accidental medicine poisoning sends a child under age 6 to an emergency room every nine minutes in this country - and every 12 days, a child dies.

Last year, the Illinois Poison Center handled nearly 77,000 cases of people ingesting potentially harmful substances, and more than 40 percent involved children age 5 and younger.

According to the center's senior director, Carol DesLauriers, most calls are the result of accidental ingestion of drugs and medications.

When people think of poisons, she said, "They might think of something like cyanide, arsenic, or something that they may not even have in their home, but the fact is that everyone has poisons in their homes. It could be medications, drugs, household products, and cosmetics and personal products."

March is Illinois Poison Prevention Month. The state has a toll-free hotline set up for emergencies: 800-222-1222.

DesLauriers said small children like to mimic adults, and might think medicine is candy because some is brightly colored. She adds that medication should be kept out of sight and out of reach, because kids can be pretty curious and determined.

"They're child-resistant, not child-proof, meaning they'll slow them down," she warned, "but you never want to 100-percent rely on a child-resistant container being impenetrable by a child."

The group Safe Kids Worldwide has released a report on efforts to educate people about accidental medicinal poisonings. It found that headway is being made, but concludes there are still too many children being harmed.

National Poison Prevention Week is March 18-24.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL