Millions of people are exposed to poisons every year. These exposures can result in significant illness, hospital stays and unfortunately even death. According to the CDC, there were more than 58,000 unintentional poisoning deaths in 2016. While poisoning can affect people in any age group, the impact of unintentional poisoning is disproportionately high among children under the age of six.

With National Poison Prevention Week coming up March 17-23, we decided to take a closer look at poison prevention and things you can do to protect against poison exposures.

How to Prevent Poisoning

Since most accidental poisonings involve young children, it is important to keep protecting them foremost in your mind. One helpful resource is the Poison Control Home Safety Checklist from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It provides useful information for protecting children against poisoning in every room of the home and can be crossed over to the child care center. Inaccessibility to these items in the child care center is key!

You should also keep the number for poison control (1-800-222-1222) posted near every phone.

Identify all of the poisons in your center and keep them inaccessible to children. If it is possible to secure poisons with a lock, rather than just up high, this can be an additional layer of protection between the child and the substance. Common poisons include cleaning products, detergents, medicines, rubbing alcohol and bleach.

Always read the labels of products that could be potentially poisonous before using them. You should always keep potential poisons in their original containers. They need to be easily identifiable and they may have important instructions for use and for instances of potential exposure.

You should avoid storing products that can be harmful near food and beverage items. Furthermore, when you are done with a product that could be harmful, make sure to dispose of it properly and in a way that cannot be accessed by a child.  Medications should be returned to families and if for some reason this is not possible, refer to Hennepin County (or your local county) for proper medicine disposal information.


What to do in the event of a poisoning

Even with the best efforts at poison prevention, there is always the potential for exposure to a harmful substance. If a child or any other person is exposed to a poison, you need to stay calm and act fast.

If the person is still awake and alert, you should call poison control immediately. When you call, you will want to have the container of the poison ready and information like the age and weight of the victim, the time of exposure and the address of where you are.

If the person exposed to the poison has collapsed, is not breathing or if they seem impaired by the poison, you will need to call 911 immediately. Make sure to have all of the necessary information about the poison and the individual ready for the emergency operator.

National Poison Prevention Week is a great time to get involved and raise awareness of poisoning prevention in your area. You can contact your local poison control center to find out if there are any events in your area. If not, you could take steps to organize your own events to raise awareness in your community.