The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission encourages consumers to “Prepare, Prevent, and Protect” their families from poisonings at home.
This year, with families spending more time indoors due to covid-19 restrictions, children, as well as some seniors, are at increased risk of injury or death from poisoning.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily routines, increasing the need for consumers to take stock of common poison dangers lurking at home and take preventive action to protect their families, especially children, from unintentional poisonings,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler.
Unintentional poisoning is one of the leading causes of injury among children. The sources most often include blood pressure medications, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antidepressants, Attention Deficit Disorder medications, dietary supplements, diphenhydramine, bleach, and laundry packets.
Preliminary data from March through September 2020 during the covid-19 pandemic found that emergency room treatment rose for severe injuries related to cleaning agents, 84 percent, and soaps and detergents, 60 percent, compared to the previous year.
Child poisoning deaths have decreased by more than 80 percent since the Poison Prevention Packaging Act went into effect in 1970. It requires manufacturers to secure certain medicines and hazardous household chemicals in child-resistant packaging.
Under the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act, liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes is also required to be in child-resistant packaging. Often sold in sweet flavors and bright colors that appeal to children, liquid nicotine is highly toxic if swallowed or absorbed through the skin or eyes.
Swallowing even small amounts of liquid nicotine can be extremely hazardous and even deadly to children.
The CPSC offers these tips to prevent accidental poisons:
- Don’t store medications in unsecured containers. Keep medicines closed tightly in their original bottles with child-resistant caps. Keep them stored securely away from children. The elderly also are at risk of mistaking medications.
- Discard unfinished or unused medicines properly. Ask your local pharmacy or police department if they have a collection site for medications.
- Never call medicine “candy.”
- Always store liquid nicotine in its child-resistant packaging, and tightly seal the container after each use.
- Keep liquid nicotine stored securely away from children.
Household cleaning products
- Keep household cleaning products, hand sanitizers, and other products that are sold in child-resistant packaging in their original packaging and stored securely away from children. The elderly also are at risk of ingesting household products.
- Store laundry products securely away from children, and keep them sealed in their original packaging. Single-load liquid laundry packets are highly concentrated, often colorful, and can look appetizing to children.
- Don’t leave products with accessible button batteries within reach of children. Coin-size button batteries, used in electronic products – from remotes and gaming controllers to musical greeting cards – are a danger, if swallowed. If the battery compartment doesn’t have a screw closure or is damaged, keep the product out of reach of children; use a strong, secure tape, such as duct tape, to help secure a battery compartment.
- Be aware fuel-burning products – such as portable generators, furnaces, and cars – produce carbon monoxide, a deadly, colorless, and odorless gas.
- Always operate portable generators outside and away from open doors, windows, and vents. Keep generators at least 20 feet away from the house.
Poison Help Line
- Always keep the National Poison Help Line number, 800-222-1222, handy in case of a poison emergency.
For more information, see the CPSC’s Poison Prevention Safety Education Center.