In recognition of National Safety Month, observed annually each June, State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn) today reminded New York parents and guardians that young children are especially vulnerable to accidental poisonings, though not necessarily from toxic chemicals that conjure up a skull and crossbones image.
"The average home is full of items that can poison a child," said Senator Dilan. "Some of them are self-evident — roach spray and rat poison. But others are more surprising, such as furniture polish, mouthwash, and windshield washer fluid. A poison is any substance that can cause an unintended consequence."
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, a child is accidentally poisoned in the United States every 30 seconds. Each year, thousands of children ingest common household products, such as cleansers, paints, cosmetics, insect sprays and medicines. Data show that 60 percent of all poisonings occur to children under six years of age.
Senator Dilan noted that poisonings can be prevented, and painful– if not tragic– circumstances avoided, by setting aside a little time to make homes safe for little ones. "To check your childproofing efforts, it’s a good idea to get down on your hands and knees in every room of your home to see things from a child’s perspective," he urged.
The obvious first step, Senator Dilan added, is to keep all household chemicals and medicines out of sight and out of reach of children. He specifically mentioned special toddler locks are available for kitchen cabinets. Other child safety suggestions include:
Keep all drugs, household products and pesticides in their original
containers. Follow label instructions for use and for safe discarding.
Do not call medicine "candy" and avoid taking medicine in front of
young children, who like to imitate adults. Put medications in a
place where no one else has access to them.
Do not leave household products out after use. Never leave children
alone with household products or drugs.
Post the national toll-free poison control number – 1-800-222-1222
– on or near every home phone and save it on your cell phone. This
emergency line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, if
a victim of poisoning has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.
With a little bit more knowledge, families can protect their young ones from hurt and harm. For more safety tips, and information on how to handle a childhood poisoning emergency, visit the web site of the American Academy of Pediatrics at www.aap.org.
"Whether you have a baby, toddler, or school-age child, your home should be your little one's safe haven," Senator Dilan concluded. "Most accidental poisonings can be avoided if adults take precautions with hazardous household substances. Remember, children can't be poisoned by something they can't see or reach."