National Poison Prevention Week

In observance of National Poison Prevention Week (March 14-20), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with the Poison Prevention Week Council, recommendslocking up household cleaners, disinfectants, solvents and other materials to reduce accidental poisoning among children.

On March 15, 2010, President Obama issued a proclamation recognizing the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week. “With nearly two million poison exposures reported each year, we must take every precaution to guard against these preventable tragedies. Sadly, more than half of all reported poisonings involve children under the age of six, and the vast majority take place in the home. Parents should keep household chemicals and medicines in child-proof containers, beyond the reach of their children,” said President Obama.

The EPA promotes poison prevention each year to increase public awareness of the potential danger to children from pesticides and other household products. Leading causes of poisoning include cosmetics like perfume and nail polish; deodorant and soap; bath and kitchen disinfectants like bleach; household cleaning or maintenance products, such as drain cleaner, paints, or glues; and prescription and nonprescription medications.

Household cleaning products such as bleach should only be used in a safe and responsible way. The Water Quality & Health Council has long promoted safe use and storage practices for these products. Listed below are a few tips to help ensure that you are handling and using these products safely:

  • Read and follow label directions at all times.
  • Store cleaning products in a locked cabinet not accessible to young children.
  • Never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or ammonia-based products.
  • Keep cleaning products away from food, store in their original containers, and never remove labels.
  • Post the Poison Control Centers national hotline number, 1-800-222-1222, near your phone in case of emergency.

For information on poison prevention visit the Poison Prevention Council website.

For more tips on safe use of chlorinated cleaning products visit the Water Quality and Health Council website.

(Linda Golodner is President Emeritus of the National Consumers League and Vice Chair of the Water Quality & Health Council.)