An estimated 85,000 children younger than 5 are unintentionally poisoned each year in the U.S.
Does that sound like a lot? Wondering how so many children gain access to poisons?
According to a CPSC study, in 2014 thousands of children got their hands on blood pressure medicine. You know the pills in grandma’s purse, in the day-minder container next to the tin of mints. Then there were the kids who found the partially opened bleach container on the kitchen floor next to the bucket of sudsy water. And for others, it was the colorful and squishy but highly concentrated liquid laundry packet placed atop the load of laundry.
Children access medicines, household chemicals and other potentially harmful products in various ways. The majority, about 76 percent, of unintentional poisonings occur in the home, often with commonly used products.
Preventing unintentional poisoning is not done by luck of the draw, but rather with a plan for protection.
What should parents do? First, identify hazardous products in the home. The Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA), passed by Congress in 1972, requires special packaging for about 30 categories of these products. Child-resistant caps on medicines and on household cleaners are a good indicator that the product can present a poison risk.
Store these products up high, out of a child’s sight and reach. And remember, the special packaging cannot work if it is not used properly. Always completely re-seal hazardous products after each use.
Since the PPPA was passed in 1972, child fatalities as a result of unintentional poisonings have declined significantly, from about 216 a year to about 32.
Yet, there are still emerging hazards that need to be addressed. Between January 1 and May 31, 2015, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received nearly 1,500 reports of child exposure to hazardous liquid nicotine. In February 2016, President Obama signed the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act into law, requiring child-resistant containers for liquid nicotine. CPSC is taking steps to implement this important child safety law.
Poison dangers are presented by the more familiar hazards and innocuous products alike. To reduce the risk of unintentional poisoning incidents, remember to safely store medicines, household cleaners and other chemicals in the home.
Here are a few tips and resources to help:
- First. Always use and re-seal child safety caps.
- Next. Lock up poisons and medicines up and keep them out of a child’s sight and reach.
- Last. Keep the Poison Help hotline number 1-800-222-1222 nearby. Call your local poison center in case of poison emergency.
Think Outside the Box: Watch this video for help identifying and addressing hidden poisoning dangers in the home.