Unintentional pediatric poisoning deaths spiked 37 percent in 2021, with 59 children under five years old losing their lives after accessing prescribed or illicit drugs. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) encourages consumers to safeguard their families, especially those more vulnerable, from poisonings by taking control of potentially harmful household products, medications, and drugs.
National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW) is observed every third week in March. Established in 1961 by Congress, National Poison Prevention Week was originated to raise awareness of poison prevention and safety.
In 2021, Poison Help responded to more than 2 million human exposure cases, on average, receiving an exposure case every 15 seconds. Some top exposure substance categories included cleaning supplies and cosmetic/personal care products – all everyday household items.
Every year, poison control centers receive millions of calls from people seeking medical help for poisoning. Poisons are substances that, in a high enough quantity, can cause illness, injury, or death when ingested, inhaled, injected, or otherwise taken into the body. Poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional death. The leading cause of poisoning is drug overdoses; other causes include inadvertent drug or chemical ingestion and exposure to environmental substances.
Most of us live with dangerous poisons lurking in kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, basements, or garages. But, disaster can occur when warning labels are ignored or chemicals fall into the wrong hands.
More than 300 children are treated in the U.S. every day, and two die due to poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is mainly from ingesting personal care products, like cosmetics or household cleaning supplies.
Make informed decisions about the type of products you bring into your home. Before you buy, read the label to ensure you know exactly what you’re purchasing. Also, understand terms and definitions found on product labels:
- “Caution” indicates the lowest level of potential harm
- “Warning” indicates a higher level of potential harm, meaning someone could be seriously ill or injured
- “Danger” indicates the highest level of potential harm: tissue damage to the skin, blindness, death, or damage to the mouth, throat, or stomach if swallowed.
Living with chemicals is a reality. Understanding risk and limiting exposure are paramount to keeping your family safe.
Detergent pods for laundry and dishwashers are attractive to infants and toddlers because they are soft and colorful and resemble candy, toys, and teething products. Still, they are also a threat to children’s safety. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports children under the age of 5 ingested, inhaled, or were exposed through skin or eye contact to single-load laundry pods over 9,000 times in 2018.
Coin lithium batteries, or button batteries, are little silver-colored discs that power everything from toys and electronics to watches and musical greeting cards. Unfortunately, if swallowed or placed in the nose or ears, button batteries can cause severe injury or death.
More than 3,500 people of all ages swallow button batteries every year in the U.S. Most pass through the body and are eliminated, but sometimes they get caught in the esophagus. As a result, an electrical current can form in the body, and hydroxide, an alkaline chemical, can cause tissue burns that can be fatal.
The CDC recommends keeping toxic products in their original packaging and storing them out of sight and out of reach of curious children.
Additionally, the Health Resources & Services Administration recommends:
- Keep all chemicals, household cleaners, medicines, and potentially poisonous substances in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.
- Keep children where you can see them at all times, even when you go to answer the door or telephone.
- Never leave young children alone.
- Do not leave poisons on a counter or in an unlocked cabinet
- Never carry something poisonous, such as medicine, in an open purse where children may find it.
- Put safety latches on drawers or cabinets and child-resistant caps on bottles to help keep poisons out of the hands of children
Keep the National Poison Control Center number, (800) 222-1222, in your cell phone contacts. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
More information on poisoning prevention is available at https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/other-poisons/poisonous-household-products
Preparedness information is also available via the Lexington Emergency Management Facebook page: @LexingtonKYEM and the Division of Emergency Management Twitter and Instagram accounts – both @Lexkyem.
Contact: John Bobel