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Preventing accidental poisoning at home

March 15, 2023 

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports more than 90% of all poisonings happen at home. Cosmetics and personal care products lead the list of most common substances implicated in pediatric poison exposures.

According to the most recent data from the NSC, one poison exposure was reported to U.S. poison control centers every 15 seconds in 2020.  

As part of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25, HSHS St. Francis Hospital reminds you about the dangers of potentially poisonous medicines and chemicals and shares tips on how to keep your loved ones safe.  
“In the emergency department, accidental poison consumptions that we treat can range from children swallowing cleaning products to adults taking an unadvised dosage of certain medicines,” said Karen Webb, emergency department manager at HSHS St. Francis Hospital. “It is so important to keep products that could cause possible harm to children out of their reach and also to read your medication labels carefully before consuming them.” 
If you encounter someone who was potentially exposed to poisonous substances:  

  1. Call 911 if they are unconscious or having difficulty breathing. 
  2. Remain calm. 
    • Most poison emergencies can be resolved quickly over the phone. 
  3. Contact the Poison Control helpline. 
    • Online help is available at poison.org or by phone at 1-800-222-1222. Both options are free, confidential and staffed by experts. 

Preventive measures are always the best way to protect your family from accidental poisoning. Tips include: 

  • Place household cleaning products up and away, out of children’s reach and sight. Make sure to put cleaning supplies and chemicals away after every use. 
  • Keep all household cleaning products in their original containers. When buying products, look for child-resistant containers for an extra layer of protection. 
  • Check your home for products that might be harmful to kids like cleaning supplies, liquid laundry packets, plants, pesticides, alcohol and medicine. Keep personal care products such as lotion, makeup, cleanser and deodorant where kids can’t get into them. 
  • Be aware of any medications or makeup that may be in your purse, laptop bag or backpack. Store handbags out of the reach of young children. 
  • Never call medicine “candy” to get a child to take it when needed.

 For more information on how to protect yourself and your family, visit poison.org.  

The HSHS St. Francis Hospital emergency department, 1215 Franciscan Dr. in Litchfield, is well-prepared to deliver high-quality emergency medical care 24/7, in the safest way possible.  

Preventing accidental poisoning at home