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Tips to make sure home and school are poison proof for children

With school approaching it’s a good time to go through your home and make sure it’s poison proof if you have children, and to be aware of the possibilities at school.

Last school year, our poison center managed more than 31,000 cases of school-aged children who were exposed to a variety of potential poisons. We saw an increase in exposures for kids getting into personal care products (including hand sanitizers) and home cleaning products. However, our number one call, from a parent or caregiver for children between six to 19 years old was for pain medicines (i.e., ibuprofen and acetaminophen).

“This school year we anticipate seeing many of the same calls we saw last year as some kids head back to class and others remain at home,” says Michele Caliva, administrative director of the Upstate New York Poison Center, “We are prepared to handle yet another school year with calls for children getting into potentially poisonous products. We urge all families to take the time now to go over what is in your home, put ALL cleaning products up, away, and out of sight of children, talk to your children about what could make them sick and have our number saved: 1-800-222-1222.”


Things to watch out for at school & at home:

• MEDICATIONS: Child-resistant does not mean childproof. Keep all medicines up & away from children. Carefully read and follow directions and warnings on all labels before taking or giving medicine. Schools have medication policies, so be sure to find out what they are and discuss with your child. Teach children to never take medicine meant for someone else, it could be a deadly mistake.

• CLEANING PRODUCTS: Keep all cleaning products in their original containers and place them up and out of the reach of children, even during use. Don’t mix cleaning products and follow all label directions, warnings and precautions.

• HAND SANITIZERS: A lick of hand sanitizer is not fatal, but drinking it could cause alcohol poisoning. If using in the classroom or at home, teach children less than a dime-sized amount of sanitizer is adequate to clean hands. Hands should be rubbed together until dry. In the 2020-2021 school year, we received a little more than 200 calls for exposures to hand sanitizers for babies to 19-year-olds.

• SCHOOL LUNCH: It is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold to prevent food poisoning. Pack appropriate lunch items that will not spoil in a lunch box. Washing fruits and vegetables beforehand helps remove dirt, bacteria, and pesticides. Encourage children to wash their hands every time before eating.

• PLAYGROUNDS: Playgrounds can be a breeding ground for poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms. It is hard to tell the difference. Teach children to never pick a mushroom. If they do, wash their hands, and then call us.



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