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Protect Your Family from Accidental Poisoning

By Lina Younes, EPA’s Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison

Did you know that poison centers answer more than 4 million calls each year. That’s one call every eight seconds! Did you also know that the majority of these incidents are 100% preventable?

That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency, its federal partners and the American Association of Poison Control Centers are joining forces to increase awareness of the dangers of poisoning during National Poison Prevention Week, March 18- 24.

The Centers for Disease Control statistics indicate that poisoning has become the leading cause of death from injuries in this country. More than 2 million human exposures occur every year. More than 50% involve children 6 years old or younger.

EPA and its federal partners are especially concerned about preventing accidental exposures among young children. They are especially vulnerable to poisonings for several reasons.

Given the fact that they inhale more air and consume more food and water in proportion to their body weight, any exposure to poisons, even those in small quantities, heighten the dangers of poisoning to their developing bodies.

There are behavioral risks as well. Children are frequently crawling on the floor where there may be pesticide residues and they frequently put their hands and small articles in their mouths. These behaviors put them at even a greater risk.

So what can you do to protect your family from accidental poisonings? Here are some simple tips:

  • Keep pest control products, household cleaners, and medication up high, out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet or garden shed.
  • Read the label before using a pest control or household cleaning product.
  • Using more than indicated on the label does not kill more pests or clean better. In fact, misuse of the product only increases the risk of poisonings.
  • Go through your home room by room to see where there are potential poisoning hazards and correct accordingly.
  • Use products with a tamper-resistant bait station to protect children from exposure to mouse/rat/insect poison.
  • Program the Poison Help Line (800-222-1222) into your phone and post the poison help line number near your phone. In the event of an accidental poisoning, call the toll free Poison Help line which is staffed around the clock. Help is available in English, Spanish and more than 150 languages.

Do us a favor—help us spread the word during National Poison Prevention Week! Together we may prevent accidental poisonings at home and in your community. Find additional resources on how to protect children from pesticide exposure. 

Learn more about how to prevent poisonings in the home.

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