NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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Poison Prevention in and Around the Home

poison prevention, accidental poisoning, poisons

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

Because many of us are, or have been spending more time at home than usual, this is a perfect time to take steps to prevent accidental poisoning in the home.

Do you store medications, vitamins, cleaning supplies and other like items away from food and beverages? Are medications, cleaning supplies and other toxins out of the reach of children and pets and in their original labeled containers?

Poisons are defined as any substance causing an adverse reaction that can impair, injure, or result in an unintentional death. 

Many poisonous items are easy to confuse with candy, beverages and other safe items.  Poison Prevention Week, held during March, reminds us that some of the deadliest and most dangerous items in our homes are hiding in plain sight. Just take a peek under your kitchen sink or in your laundry room. And don’t forget to have a look inside your medicine cabinet.

Household cleaning agents, prescription medications, pesticides, and other items can pose serious hazards to the health and well-being of our families and even our pets. And there are a whole host of items that we may overlook which can also be dangerous, such as art supplies, plants, and food.

Tips for safety:

  • Lock up pesticides and household chemicals out of the reach of children – preferably in a high cabinet.
  • Keep poisons in the containers they came in with the original label intact. Do not use food containers to store household cleaners and other strong chemicals.
  • Never mix chemicals. Doing so can create a poisonous gas.
  • Turn on fans and open windows when using strong chemicals.
  • Do not expose your skin to strong chemicals.
  • Never sniff containers to see what’s inside.
  • Discard old or outdated products. First aid advice on those containers may be incorrect or outdated.
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage. For liquid medicines, use the dosing device that came with the medicine.

It’s important to remember that almost anything has the potential to be poisonous if used in the wrong way, in the wrong amount, or by the wrong person.

Each year, approximately 3 million people – many under age 5 – swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance; 93 percent of poisonings occur in the home.

Poison centers are your first resource for advice and help in the event of an actual or suspected poisoning. Help is a phone call away, and knowing what to do when a poisoning exposure occurs can be the difference between a close call and a fatality. The phone number 1-800-222-1222. Post it somewhere in your home where others will see it and program it in your home and mobile phones.

Take action now to safeguard your family from poisonous products, chemicals, medicines, and drugs found in your home.

For more information, contact your local poison control center. North Dakota has a state poison control center, accessible at www.ndpoison.org. It includes a variety of educational materials.

Sources: Health Resources & Services Administration. www.hrsa.gov; American Academy of Pediatrics.

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