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Safe Kids Washoe County reminds parents about importance of poison prevention



It is natural for children to explore their surroundings – unless they’re getting under the kitchen sink or into the medicine cabinet where hazardous chemicals and medicines are kept. As National Poison Prevention Week (March 18-24) approaches, Safe Kids Washoe County reminds parents to make sure they store hazardous materials – such as medication – out of their children’s reach.

Each year, unintentional poisoning is the cause of death for approximately 100 children ages 14 years and under. Poison control centers in the United States receive 1.2 million calls as a result of accidental poisoning of children ages 5 and under. Nearly 90 percent of these exposures occur in the home, and 56 percent involve non-pharmaceutical products such as cosmetics, cleansers, personal care products, plants, pesticides, art supplies, alcohol and toys.

“Based on cases reported to poison control centers, half of all poison-related deaths among children ages 5 and under involve medicine,” said Melissa Krall, coordinator of Safe Kids Washoe County. “Children have faster metabolisms than adults and anything they ingest can be absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly.”

National Poison Prevention Week is a week nationally designated by Congress since 1961 to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. Child-resistant packaging is credited with saving hundreds of children’s lives since its introduction in the 1970s. Still, there is no substitute for active supervision and childproofing.

“If a product label says ‘keep out of reach of children,’ there’s a reason,” said Krall. “Keep it up and away and stored in a locked location.”

Safe Kids Washoe County poison control center from anywhere in the United States.

“If a child is choking, having trouble breathing or having a seizure, call 911 instead,” said Krall. “Follow the 911 operator’s instructions. Do not induce vomiting or give the child any fluid or medication unless directed.”

Safe Kids Washoe County offers these additional tips:

  • Always store medicines and vitamins up and away in a locked location, and out of sight of children.
  • Never give adult medications to children.
  • Never call medication candy or tell children it tastes like candy.
  • Always use the dosing device packaged with the medications. Never use a household utensil, such as a teaspoon or tablespoon, to measure medication.
  • Reminder babysitters, houseguests, and visitors to keep purses and bags that contain medicine up and away when they visit your home.

Safe Kids Worldwide also released a new research report that found while the death rate among children from poisoning has been cut in half since the late 1970s, the percentage of all child poisoning deaths due to medications has nearly doubled, from 36 percent to 64 percent. To obtain a copy of the report, please contact Scott Walquist at [email protected].

For more information about poison prevention, call 775-858-5700 or visit www.safekids.org.

Safe Kids Washoe County works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Washoe County is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury.

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