Senator Oppenheimer Urges Parents And Guardians: Take Precautions To Prevent Childhood Poisoning

Suzi Oppenheimer

June 12, 2007

June is National Safety Month. In recognition of the annual event, State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) today reminded New York parents and guardians that young children are especially vulnerable to unintentional poisonings, though not necessarily from toxic chemicals that conjure up a skull and crossbones image.

"Home can be a remarkably unsafe place when it comes to an accidental poisoning," said Senator Oppenheimer. "The truth is, many poisonings result from the ingestion of ordinary household products in toxic amounts. Household products we rely on every day – medicines, detergents and insecticides – can prove deadly if left within reach of young children."

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, and cosmetics. Data show that 60 percent of all poisonings occur to children under six years of age.

Senator Oppenheimer 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. "Walk through your home with a fresh pair of eyes– a toddler’s eyes– and take any necessary steps to make sure their world is as safe as possible," she urged.

The obvious first step, Senator Oppenheimer added, is to keep all household chemicals and medicines out of sight and out of reach of children. She 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

"From the vantage point of a young child, everyday poisons can be found all over the house – from the kitchen, bathroom and garage, to the dining room, laundry room and basement," Senator Oppenheimer concluded. "It’s critically important for parents and guardians to poison-proof the entire home. For as quickly as a toddler can act, so too can deadly poisons."