Did you know that more than two million accidental poisonings occur each year in the United States?  Most of these take place in the home (93 percent) and involve young children (45 percent).

March 21-27 is National Poison Prevention Week. This year, being aware of potential poison hazards in your home and taking steps to protect your loved ones may be more important than ever. Research shows that poisonings are more likely to happen when there is an interruption to normal family routines. Certainly, COVID-19 has caused some major changes in the home, including more time spent indoors, school, work and other activities all happening in a confined space, as well as a significant increase in the use of chemicals for cleaning and sanitizing.

Everyday household items become dangerous when they’re used by the wrong person, in the wrong amount or in the wrong way. Some common products that children, especially, are getting into while at home include:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Personal care products (like mouthwash, lotions, and sanitizer)
  • Cleaning products
  • Over-the-counter and prescription medications
  • Home improvement and arts and crafts materials
  • Objects like silica gel packets, glow sticks, and coins

Prevention Strategies

The good news is that poisoning incidents can be prevented with a little extra awareness and care. Poison Control experts recommend that homeowners should start by taking inventory of the everyday items they use.

Then, make sure that:

  • Household products, cleaners, personal care products and medications are up and away and out of children’s sight. 
  • Household cleaners and chemicals are kept in their original containers.
  • Purses, handbags or backpacks that contain medicines or personal care products are stored up and away from children.
  • Young children are taught not to touch or taste a product without a trusted adult’s permission. Colorful and pleasant-smelling products can be very appealing.
  • When you give children medicine, that you double check morning and evening medications to prevent double dosing.
  • Medicine cabinets are cleaned out regularly
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.

At the first sign of a poisoning

  • Call the toll-free Poison Helpline (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center.
  • If the person inhaled poison – Get to fresh air right away.
  • If the person has poison on the skin – Take off any clothing the poison touched. Rinse skin with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If the person has poison in the eyes – Rinse eyes with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If your child swallowed something toxic or an unknown object – call the Poison Helpline before administering any type of first aid. Every poisoning is different and treatment advice will depend on the type and amount of poison involved. The child’s age, weight, and medical history will affect treatment, too.