Thirty-one children under the age of five die in the United States each year of unintentional poisonings from consumer products found in the home, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is a decline of 80 percent from 1972, when 216 children died. In 2018, the number of reported fatalities dropped to 17, the lowest figure since reporting began in 1972.
However, fatalities have increased over the past several years. Pediatric poisoning fatalities doubled to 34 in 2019, and they increased by 26 percent in 2020, reaching 43 fatalities for the year. Narcotics, such as opioids, made up almost half of these deaths.
Celebrate the 60th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week March 20-26 by following these safety tips:
- Keep chemicals, medications, and cleaning supplies safely stored in a locked cabinet or box, out of the reach of children.
- Keep medicines and household chemicals in their original, child-resistant containers.
- Don’t let children handle laundry detergent packets.
- Store laundry detergent packets in their original containers, out of a child’s sight and reach.
- Don’t leave products with accessible button batteries within reach of children and use tape to help secure a battery compartment that doesn’t have a screw closure. Coin-size button batteries, used in a variety of electronics, are dangerous if swallowed.
- Call Poison Help – 800-222-1222 – immediately if a child swallows or is exposed to chemicals.
“Decades of diligence and collaborative efforts have contributed to a dramatic decline in children being poisoned,” said Alexander Hoehn-Saric, chair of the CPSC.
However, progress isn’t guaranteed, Hoehn-Saric said.
“Recent increases in fatalities demonstrate the need for continued vigilance and work to limit and eventually eliminate these preventable tragedies,” he said.
Poison dangers to children range from medicines and household chemicals to coin-size batteries and liquid nicotine.
In 2020, blood pressure medications, acetaminophen, antidepressants, dietary supplements, and bleach were among the top five most unintentionally ingested substances by young children.
The CPSC encourages family members and caregivers to identify products in their homes that could be a danger and keep these products out of a child’s sight and reach. In addition, lock up prescription drugs to protect teens. You don’t want to be your teen’s drug dealer. Also, be aware older adults with dementia can also be victims of accidental poisonings.
National Poison Prevention Week began in 1962. The Poison Prevention Packaging Act was passed in1970, and the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act became law in 2015. Also in 2015, voluntary standard for liquid flow restrictors for oral liquid drug products were issued.