National Poison Prevention Awareness Week

Poisoning is the number-one cause of injury-related death in the United States. If you have a little one, teen or elderly loved one at home, the third week in March is the week to educate yourself on this subject! This upcoming March 19th–25th marks National Poison Prevention week. The week, hosted by the National Poisoning Prevention Council, spreads the word on poison prevention tips.

National Poison Prevention week is not a new occurrence. On September 26th, 1961, the 87th United States Congress passed a joint resolution (Public Law 87-319) requesting that the President of the United States proclaim the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week. Later, on February 7th, 1962, President John F. Kennedy responded to this request and announced the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week. Since then, the annual event has helped thousands become more aware of the dangers that come with common household items.

Considering that 90% of all poisonings occur at home, what can you first do to poison-proof your residence?

  • First, never mix household or chemical products together. Doing so can often create a dangerous gas.
  • Secondly, never share prescription medicines. If you are taking more than one drug at a time, check with your health care provider, pharmacist, or call the toll-free Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222). This phone number will connect you to your local poison center, to find out more about possible drug interactions.
  • Finally, keep all chemicals, household cleaners, medicines, and potentially poisonous substances in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.

Even if you have had your home “poison-proofed,” there are still certain demographic groups who are at a higher risk than others: young children, teens and the elderly are at the highest risk. What can you do to target and help these groups? Read on for quick tips and tricks.

Young Children:

Caregivers should be mindful of a number of safety tips to keep children safe from poisons. According to countless tests, children who are less than six years old are the most likely to be poisoned. A child’s age, weight, and medical history will also affect the treatment of a poisoning.

It is VITAL to keep the following poisonous products away from children:

  • Painkillers, such as acetaminophen and similar medications
  • Cosmetics, such as perfume or nail polish, and personal care products such as deodorant and soap
  • Cleaning products, such as laundry detergent and floor cleaners

When taking care of children, heed the following tips:

  • All medicines and household cleaning products should be stored in locked cabinets or drawers, out of the reach of children.
  • Keep children where you can see them at all times; often poisonings occur when children are left unsupervised.
  • Do not leave poisons on a counter or in an unlocked cabinet.
  • Never carry something that can be poisonous, such as a medicine, in a purse/ bag where children can easily find it.
  • Safety latches on drawers or cabinets, and child-resistant caps on bottles, are helpful in keeping poisons out of the hands of children.


Sadly, prescription drug abuse leads to countless poisonings among teens every year. Abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other dangerous substances are also common causes of poisonings.

  • Parents and adults should closely monitor the use of any dangerous substances.
  • Remember that there are trusted adults at poison centers that can give free and confidential information about the use and abuse of prescription drugs and other potential poisons.

Elderly Adults:

Older adults often use more medications as they begin to age. It is vital to read all labels and warnings. Older adults should always have the toll-free Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) available to call in case of an emergency, which connects you to your local poison center. Specifically, the following tips can help ensure that older adults are not at risk.

  • With prescription drugs, make sure they have the correct medicines, and the medicine is clearly labeled.
  • Make sure your loved one follows the label’s instructions, including dosage.
  • Review all medicines (including food supplements such as vitamins, minerals, or herbs) with their doctor or pharmacist at least once a year.
  • If taken at night, make sure medicine is not taken in the dark.
  • Never mix and use other family member’s prescription drugs.