Did you know that over 50,000 children visit hospital emergency rooms every year due to accidental poisonings, and that every year, children still die from ingesting materials that they never should have been able to get their hands on in the first place?
Since the early 1960’s, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has tried to prevent such accidental poisonings by informing, teaching and instructing the general public in the safe use and storage of common household items that may seriously injure, or even kill, when ingested. Such items like cleaning solutions, medications, and even vitamins and minerals can be lethal, especially to small children, if taken in large enough amounts.
Established in 1961 when Congress passed a resolution designating the third week of every March as National Poison Prevention Week, the commission has since urged parents and child caregivers to make sure that harmful products are kept out of children’s reach at all times. They also attempt to warn parents and caregivers that a child’s natural curiosity is enough to overcome many verbal warnings and that it’s extremely important to make sure that potentially hazardous materials are stored or locked away out of their reach.
These items can include, but are not limited to baby oil, mouthwash, drain openers and oven cleaners. Of course, any type of drug or medication can be dangerous, and that includes cough syrups, aspirin, including baby aspirin, eye drops and hair gels and shampoos. Many young children are attracted by the bright colors and scents of many bathroom items, so make sure to always store them out of reach of babies and toddlers. Avoid taking medications in front of young children, as they are apt to mirror your actions.
More than two million poisonings occur in the United States alone every year, and most of those are avoidable. The majority of children affected by poisonings are under the age of six, which makes them too young to read, but old enough to be increasingly curious about the world around them. The theme of National Poison Prevention Week is, “Children Act Fast, So Do Poisons!” Such a theme is true, not just during this week, but every week of the year. While deaths relating to accidental poisonings have decreased dramatically since 1961, even one child lost through poisoning is one too many.
National Poison Prevention Week is a time when parents and caregivers from all walks of life literally go through their homes and apartments to make sure those dangerous materials are properly stored or secured from children’s reach. Every home throughout the United States has items stored inside that can potentially poison a child, so it’s important for everyone to be aware of what they are and what they can do. While the event does not initiate parades or celebrations, it is an occasion that demands attention and recognition. During National Poison Prevention Week in schools across the country, children of all ages are taught about the dangers posed by certain types of chemicals and solutions stored within most homes.
During this week, the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Association of Poison Control Centers and local community health services offices get the word out about child poisoning and what steps most residents can take to prevent such tragic occurrences. These organizations urge parents and caregivers to take the few minutes necessary to go through every room in your home to insure that items that may pose a threat to children are put away, out of reach of exploring fingers. National Poison Prevention Week is a time for attention and responsibility. It’s up to each and every American to provide a safe and secure environment for their child, or those they are providing care for.