National Poison Prevention Week Reminds Parents to Lock Up Medicines and Household Chemicals

03/17/03    Portland, Ore.

The Oregon Poison Center at OHSU is alerting a new generation of parents to lock up medicines and household chemicals as part of National Poison Prevention Week.

The third week in March marks the beginning of the season in which the most calls are made to poison centers, said Tonya Drayden, R.N., M.S.N., C.S.P.I, education coordinator for the Oregon Poison Center. The potential for poisonings escalates in the warmer months when people are traveling and spending more time outdoors. Common calls include those concerning children accidentally taking a relative's medicine, children eating poisonous plants, and people needing information about insect stings and snake bites.

Drayden said that parents and caregivers should always be watchful and careful when household chemicals or drugs are in the house. These items should be stored or locked away from children, and kept in child-resistant packaging. More than 1 million children accidentally are poisoned every year in the United States.

Here are basic poison prevention tips that every person should know during National Poison Prevention Week and throughout the year:

  • Keep all chemicals and medicines locked up and out of sight.
  • When poisonous products are in use, never let young children out of your sight, even if you must take them with you when answering the phone or a doorbell.
  • Do not put decorative lamps or candles that contain lamp oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic if ingested by children.
  • 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 as candy.
  • Keep on hand a bottle of ipecac syrup, but use it only if the poison center instructs you to induce vomiting.
  • Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded or outdated medicines.

The Oregon Poison Center at OHSU is open 24 hours a day, every day. The center received about 70,000 calls last year, that's almost 200 calls per day. No matter where you are in Oregon or across the country, you can call 800 222-1222 for poison information.