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National Poison Prevention Week


Did you know that just about anything can be poisonous if used the wrong way?  National Poison Prevention Week, March 17-23, is observed each year to increase awareness of the danger to children of poisonings from pesticides and household products. 

Poison centers answer more than 4 million calls each year. That’s one call every eight seconds. According to the American Association of Poison Centers, children younger than 6 years old account for about half of the calls placed to poison centers. What’s more, poison center data reported over 150,000 calls made to poison centers with concerns about exposure to common household pesticides. These figures show the need for everyone to lock up pesticides and household chemicals out of children’s reach – preferably in a high cabinet.

What chemical-containing products are in your home?

Household products should be kept in a locked cabinet and out of children’s reach. Common products that could seriously harm a child if ingested include:

  • bath and kitchen disinfectants and sanitizers, including bleach
  • household cleaning or maintenance products, such as drain cleaner, paints, or glues
  • automotive products stored around the home, such as anti-freeze or windshield washer fluid
  • health or beauty care products such as medicines, hair and nail products
  • roach sprays and baits
  • insect repellents
  • rat and other rodent poisons
  • weed killers
  • products used to kill mold or mildew
  • flea and tick shampoos, powders, and dips for pets
  • swimming pool chemicals

What can you do to prevent poisonings?

Poisoning incidents can be prevented if parents and caregivers remember to lock up products that could potentially harm children. Yet, an EPA study found that among households with children under the age of five, nearly half stored pesticides in an unlocked cabinet, within reach of children. Poisoning incidents are preventable.

Simple steps you can take to prevent poisonings from occurring in your home:

  • Always store pesticides and other household chemical products in a locked cabinet or garden shed away from both children and pets.
  • Read the product label first and follow the directions to the letter.
  • Use the safest possible cleaning products.  Look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) label on products.
  • Never leave pesticides and other household chemical products unattended when you are using them.
  • Re-close pesticides and other household chemical products if interrupted during application (e.g., phone call, doorbell, etc.).
  • Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after use.
  • Never transfer pesticides and other household chemical products to containers that may be mistaken for food or drink.
  • Remove children, pets, toys, bottles and pacifiers before applying pesticides (inside or outside the home). Follow label directions to determine when children and pets can return to the area that has been treated.
  • To protect children and pets from exposure to mouse and rat poison, use products with a tamper-resistant bait station.
  • Never use illegal pesticides (e.g., Tres Pasitos, unregistered Insecticidal Chalk). These products have not been reviewed by EPA and their use may pose a danger to public health. Always look for an EPA Registration ID number on the label. (Example: EPA Reg. No. 500-123456)
  • Get your home and child tested for lead.
  • Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • Program the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone. When accidents happen with pesticides, chemicals, medicine or household products, call Poison Help and get help right away from a local poison expert.

For more information on preventing poisonings in your home visit the EPA’s website here.

For more information on Poison Prevention Week, visit Poisonprevention.org.