This week, March 16-22, 2014, is National Poison Prevention Week. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is observing this week by asking consumers to “Prepare and Prevent” exposure to poisonous products in the household. Nearly 90,000 children are treated in emergency departments nationwide each year due to unintentional poison exposure, typically occurring in the home.
An online Poison Prevention Safety Education Center has been created by the CPSC in order to reduce the risk of unintentional poising. CPSC emphasizes that even innocent-looking dangers often lurk in the household, but consumers can take simple steps to identify and prevent poison exposure before anyone is affected.
“Child-resistant caps on medicine and cleaning products have saved thousands of lives, but there is still more we can do to safeguard and prevent children from being exposed to poisons in the home,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler. “A few simple and inexpensive precautions can mean the difference between a child’s life or death.”
Oftentimes, small coin-size batteries used in electronics from keyless-entry devices to musical greeting cards are associated with pediatric poisoning incidents, mostly due to their accessibility to small children. A potentially fatal chemical burn can occur in as little as two hours when something such as a coin cell battery is lodged in the throat.
Another problem area for in-home poisoning is the laundry room. The new highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry packets have prompted many warnings from CPSC due to the hazards they present. First sold in the United States in early 2012, the laundry packets have been responsible for thousands of children’s emergency department visits nationwide. Children tend to mistake the usually brightly colored packets for candy, and ingest the packets’ poisonous contents. It is important that adults strive to ensure that these dangerous packets are kept not only out of reach of children, but out of sight.
The odorless, colorless gas known as carbon monoxide (CO) has been linked to a substantial number of sudden illnesses and deaths by poisoning from burning fossil fuels. All gas, oil, or coal burning appliances release CO emissions that can be picked up by red blood cells and replace the much-needed oxygen in one’s body, thus destroying tissues and causing injury and death. Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 400 fatalities are the result of CO-poisoning. However, CO alarms can easily be installed on every level of a home. This allows the detection of dangerous levels of CO so long as the alarm’s batteries are regularly replaced each year.
The prevention of poisoning can be easily implemented around the home by following easy steps, such as installing CO alarms and placing laundry packets and small coin batteries out of reach/sight of small children. For more information on how to better protect your family from the dangers of in-home poisoning, visit CPSC’s online Poison Prevention Safety Education Center to learn more.