Remember: "Children Act Fast...But So Do Poisons"

March 19, 2001
News Office: Wallace Ravven (415) 502-6397

A child between one and five explores the world by touching and tasting, so a youngster left unattended for even a moment faces a risk of a poisoning. While poison prevention is a year-round job, during Poison Prevention Week, March 18-24, 2001, the California Poison Control System (CPCS) reminds parents, grandparents and other caregivers that most poisonings can be prevented by taking just a few precautions:

*Use child-resistant containers whenever possible. But remember they are child-resistant, not child-proof, so they will not entirely prevent a child from opening the product.

*Do not store food products and household cleaners in the same cabinet. This can be confusing if a hungry child is looking for food. Keep products in their original containers; do not switch harmful medicines or household products to familiar food or drink containers.

*Anticipate the developmental stages of the child and keep harmful medicines and household products out of reach and in locked cabinets.

*Never call medicine candy. Do not take medicine in front of a child, because they love to imitate.

*Many poisonings occur when a product is in use. If the doorbell or phone rings or other distractions demand your attention, take the harmful product with you.

*Know the botanical or common name of your household plants so that you will be able to tell the Poison Control Center the correct name if a child eats any part of it. It might be helpful to write the name of the plant on a piece of tape and stick it on the bottom of the pot.

*Cosmetics, perfumes, cigarettes, alcohol, vitamins with iron and many over-the-counter drugs are potential problems. Keep all of these products locked up.

*Remember that children are attracted to products in the same way that adults are. If the container is pretty or a bright color, or the contents smell good, there is a greater chance the child will be curious about it. Children also are more likely to get into the wrong things when they are hungry and looking for something to eat. Most poisonings occur around mealtime when the child is hungry and the caretaker is distracted.

Be prepared! Put a Poison Control Center sticker on each of your telephones. This sticker lists the 1-800-222-1222 telephone number to call for poison emergencies and information. To receive the stickers and other poison prevention materials, leave a message on the toll-free CPCS education and information voicemail line:1-800-222-1222.

Or, you can order phone stickers and other education materials from the California Poison Control System website:

The statewide California Poison Control System receives about 300,000 calls a year for poison emergencies and information. CPCS consists of four divisions located at Valley Children's Hospital in Fresno/Madera, UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, UC San Diego Medical Center and the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center. The California Poison Control System is managed by the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy.