In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, March 20 – March 26, the New York State Division of Consumer Protection is reminding New Yorkers of prevention measures to reduce the risk of poisoning. Established in 1961, National Poison Prevention Week raises awareness of unintentional poisonings and offers information to help consumers prevent poisonings, especially among children.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Annual Report on Pediatric Poisoning Fatalities and Injuries from January 2022, pediatric poisonings involving children under 5 years of age resulted in 43 fatalities in 2020, a 26 percent increase from 2019, and 34 fatalities in 2019, a 100 percent increase from the 17 deaths in 2018.
“With the increase in reported poison exposures in 2020, it is critical that New Yorkers understand the potential hazards in the home,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “This National Poison Prevention Week, I encourage all New Yorkers to follow basic safety measures to prevent unintentional poisonings and to keep loved ones, especially children, safe.”
“Everyday household items such as cleaning supplies or faulty carbon monoxide detectors can pose serious harm if not properly stored or maintained," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "Accidental poisonings can happen to both children and adults and this week is a good reminder to take stock of potential hazards in your home and secure poisonous substances to avoid unnecessary illness or tragedy.”
DCP urges consumers to take safety precautions in the home to prevent unintentional poisonings and keep loved ones safe. Recommended measures to secure the home include the following:
- Educate yourself about the risk. Many products consumers use are not thought of as poisons due to their everyday use, including medicines, detergents, and household cleaners. Read the labels of household items to understand the risk of exposure. Teach children to stay away from cleaners and use appropriate language—for example, never refer to medicines as candy, as that can be confusing to children.
- Keep poisons out of reach. Keep household cleaners and medicines out of reach, especially in homes with vulnerable children. Lock items behind childproof locks to prevent accidental exposure. If locking items is not possible, keep them out of reach and out of sight. Keep laundry pods away from children, as they can resemble candy. Always store household cleaners in their original containers and not in food containers or other bottles, where it may be difficult to distinguish what is in the container.
- Reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Exposure to carbon monoxide results in thousands of emergency room visit every year. Consumers should make sure carbon monoxide alarms are installed on every level of the home and outside of sleeping areas, and that alarms are tested monthly.
- Clean your home safely. Reduce the risk of inhaling poisonous fumes from household cleaners. Open windows or turn on fans while using cleaning products. Never mix chemicals or household cleaners to prevent creating noxious gases. Spray products away from people and pets and keep away from the skin using gloves.
- Reduce poison risks outside the home. Pesticides can be dangerous even in small quantities, as they can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. If using pesticides such as bug spray, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and gloves. Stay away from areas that have been sprayed with pesticides until the spray has dried or for at least one hour. If your skin makes contact with pesticides, make sure to rinse the area with running water for 15-20 minutes. Remove and wash clothing after using chemicals.
Additional resources are offered through the American Association of Poison Control Centers page. The NYS Department of Health also offers resources through New York’s two poison control centers.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers. Consumers can file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection at https://dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.
For more consumer protection information, call the Division of Consumer Protection Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm or visit the DCP website at https://dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.