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Public Safety: Put Poison on Point During Poison Prevention Week

By Lisa M. Grisham, CPSTI

March 19-25 is National Poison Prevention Week and a great opportunity to share important safety tips and remind everyone to keep the Poison Help Line stored in your contacts in case of an emergency for you, your family, or even your pets.

Did you know that, every hour, five children are rushed to the ER for medicine poisonings? In most cases, these accidents are completely preventable. Kids get into, well, everything! To a child, medicine can look like candy, and in many cases, medications are made to look like candy, so little ones will be more likely to take them. Keeping medicines out of reach of children is something we have all heard, but a reminder is always a good thing.

Over the past two years, melatonin overdoses have increased in children. Many of these overdoses occurred because melatonin often comes in colorful gummy form, and it tastes good. This is also the case with many types of vitamins. Be sure you are giving your child the correct dose for his/her weight or age and use the right tools to administer medications. A teaspoon from your kitchen drawer does not equal a true teaspoon of medicine.

Child resistant packaging does not mean childproof. In fact, adults are more likely to have trouble opening a child resistant package than a child is. So, these packages should also be stored out of reach. Even when stored out of reach, children often find ways to climb to get what they want. Consider using a cabinet lock to ensure medications are protected.

Parents and caregivers should be responsible for administering medications to young children, so do not ask them to get their own doses. When children are visiting your home, or if your child is visiting another home, take necessary precautions to ensure medications are out of reach.

What should I do if I suspect poisoning?

If you suspect poisoning, call the Poison Center immediately at 800-222-1222. Someone is available 24/7 for questions and advice. The Poison Center isn’t just for children. The staff can answer questions for any age group and provide confidential, nonjudgmental, fast, free, expert advice. They even answer questions about animals.

Some examples of calls received by the Poison Center are:

  • My husband accidentally took his medication twice. What should we do?
  • I was bitten by a snake. Should I try to catch it?
  • What happens if my son took too many antidepressants?
  • A student dared my daughter to eat some berries outside.

Should I call 911 or the Poison Center?

Always call 911 if someone is unconscious, not breathing, or having seizures or convulsions because that person needs immediate medical assistance. And, just to dispel a couple of urban legends, never induce vomiting or have a patient drink milk unless instructed to do so by a medical professional.

By putting poison prevention on point, you are protecting your loved ones. For more information, please visit or