2008-03-20 / Top Stories

Poison Prevention Week Prompts Reminder From Health Dept.

Common household products such as perfume or mouthwash are the source of about one in four poisonings in children under five in New York City. To mark National Poison Prevention Week (March 16-22), which is this week, the Health Department re-minded parents and caregivers to poison-proof their homes and keep products that young children could accidentally ingest out of reach. The city's Poison Control Center received nearly 70,000 calls in 2007, the Health Department reported, 35% of which were for children under five years old.

About 90 percent of poisonings occur in the home. "Common household products can be dangerous to children," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Health Commissioner for New York City. "Make sure you keep cleaners, medicines, and cosmetics out of the reach of children and locked in cabinets, whenever possible. If your child is exposed to something po-tentially toxic, call 1-212-POISONS right away for help."

Top Ten Poisons For Kids Under Five (2007)

1. Cosmetic/personal care - hand soap, shampoo

2. Household Cleaners - bleach, ammonia, detergent

3. Foreign Bodies - silica packets from bags/shoes

4. Topical - diaper rash cream, petroleum jelly

5. Analgesics - ibuprofen, acetaminophen

6. Pesticides/Rodenticides - bait pellets

7. Vitamins - tablets

8. Cough & Cold - cough syrup, cold medicine

9. Arts/Crafts - crayons, glue

10. Antibiotics - liquid prescription medication

"Poisonings in the home are preventable," said Dr. Robert Hoffman, Director of the New York City Poison Control Center. "If you are unsure if a product could be hazardous, lock it up or put it out of reach to be safe. And if you have a question about a product or label, call Poison Control for more information."

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

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

• Keep poisons out of children's reach and use cabinet safety locks.

• Keep 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 up high and out of reach.

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

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

If you think that a poisoning has occurred, call the Poison Control Center at 1-212-764-7667. Be ready to answer these questions:

• Your name and the name of the victim

• The telephone number you are calling from

• The name and amount of substance involved

• The age and weight of the victim

• How long ago the poisoning happened

• The victim's symptoms

All calls are kept confidential. Do not stick your finger down the person's throat to make the person vomit or give anything by mouth unless told to do so by the Poison Control Cen-ter or a doctor. If the patient is unconscious, convulsing, or having trouble breathing, call 911 right away.

The New York City Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Pharmacists and nurses certified in poison information are there to give advice. All calls are free and confidential and translation services are provided.

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