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Every 12 Days, a Child Dies from Accidental Poisoning

Experts say even child-resistant pill bottles should be kept far away from a little one's reach. (DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile)
Experts say even child-resistant pill bottles should be kept far away from a little one's reach. (DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile)
March 20, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – March is Poison Prevention Month, and this week, through Saturday, is National Poison Prevention Week.

Accidental medicine poisoning sends a child younger than age six to an emergency room every nine minutes in this country - and every 12 days, a child dies.

The Kentucky Poison Control Center says it handles more than 130 calls daily, and more than half involve children under age five.

Morag Mackay, director of research for the group Safe Kids Worldwide, says many poisonings are the result of accidental ingestion of medications.

"Parents often don't realize how quickly these events can occur," she warns. "And whether the child is at home or maybe visiting grandma and grandpa, you can be supervising your child and you turn around for just a couple of minutes - and when you turn back, the child has access to medicine if it's not stored safely."

Mackay says small children like to mimic adults and might think medicine is candy because some is brightly colored. Because kids can be pretty curious and determined, she recommends medications be kept out of sight and out of reach, even if they're in child-resistant containers. She explains that parents might be a little confused about what that means.

"We found that half of them think child-resistant means childproof, and in fact, that is not the case," she explains. "Child-resistant packaging is designed to make it harder for the child to get into the medicine, but it's not completely impossible."

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

The toll-free Poison Help Hotline is 800-222-1222.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY