"Unintentional poisonings can be prevented," said New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "All of us should take steps to make sure that our homes are as safe as possible by keeping common poisons such as medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, and gasoline out of the sight and reach of children."
The state's Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) handled 62,216 calls last year, including 50,477 cases of exposure to poison and 11,739 requests for information. Forty-seven percent of all calls received involved children under six.
NJPIES operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-222-1222. The system is also available online at www.njpies.org. NJPIES is staffed by health care professionals who provide immediate help in poisoning emergencies and answer questions about poisoning involving medications, plants, household cleaning products, food, animals, carbon monoxide, insect bites and stings, and other poisonings. People can also access NJPIES on Facebook and on Twitter @NJPoisonCenter. Live text and chat are also available.
Cell phones can be programmed to include a poison control phone number (800-222-1222) and it may be helpful to post the number near home and office phones as well. If someone you know ingests a potentially harmful substance, don't stop to look it up on the Internet, just call the experts. In many situations, time is of the essence.
More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the nation's poison centers. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, approximately 90 percent of poisonings happen at home, and 51 percent involve children under the age of 6. The majority of fatal poisonings occur among adults - especially older adults.
Families can take steps to poison proof homes, such as:
- Properly dispose of all unused and/or outdated medicine
- Install a safety latch - that locks when you close the door - on child-accessible cabinets containing harmful products
- Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps and keep out of reach of children
- Never refer to medicine as "candy" or another appealing name
- Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage
- Never place dangerous substances in food or drink container
- Keep coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order