March 11, 2003 — March 16-22 is National Poison Prevention Week, and the Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy is participating with 63 other poison control centers in the U.S. to open the nation’s eyes to poison hazards for children at home.
In a press conference March 10 UPCC’s national affiliate, the American Association of Poison Control Centers, joined with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Poison Prevention Week Council to urge parents to use products with child-resistant packaging and to keep medicines and chemicals locked away from children.
Governor Mike Leavitt will sign a proclamation March 18 declaring it Poison Prevention Week in Utah. UPCC has sent fliers and posters in English and Spanish to physicians, pharmacists, health departments, hospitals, and day care facilities to be displayed where parents can see them.
The goal is to make parents take a hard look at household poisons–through the eyes of their children. Under the headline “What Does Your Child See?,” the poster shows a 3-year-old looking at two bottles of amber fluid, identical except for the labels, which the child cannot read.
Which will the child reach for? The apple juice or the cleaning fluid? In the background, a busy mom is paying attention to something else.
“Sometimes we forget that children don’t see what we see,” said Heather Hunter, UPCC outreach education provider. “We want parents to focus on common household chemicals and medicines that are dangerous to a child and to remind them to keep those products locked up.”
Hunter said that, of the 47,000 calls the center received last year, 62 percent involved incidents with children. Nationally, poison control centers receive more than one million calls each year about unintentional poisonings of young children under five.
Parents are urged to remember these basic poison prevention tips:
–Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container securely after each use.
–Call UPCC immediately in case of poisoning. Keep on hand a bottle of ipecac syrup but use it only if the poison center instructs you to induce vomiting.
–When hazardous products are in use, never let young children out of sight, even if you must take them along when answering the phone or doorbell.
–Keep items in original containers.
–Leave the original labels on all products, and read the label before using.
–Do not put candles or decorative lamps that contain lamp oil where children can reach them.
–Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine. Check the dosage every time.
–Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer to medicine as “medicine,” not “candy.”
–Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicines.
UPCC wants to remind parents that, if an accidental poisoning occurs, help is only a phone call away. The hot-line number, 1-800-222-1222, can be dialed toll-free from anywhere in the United States. Callers will be connected to the closest poison control center. Callers in Utah must dial all 11 digits to access UPCC.