More than 9,000 N.M. Children Unintentionally Poisoned During 2002


The New Mexico Poison Center Offers Safety Tips

 During National Poison Prevention Week  - March 16-22, 2003

Even innocent looking items like household plants and vitamins can poison a child in less than a minute.  Products such as medicines, cosmetics, household cleaners, and plants can be fatal to young children if left where they can reach them.  In 2002, more than 9,000 children under age five were unintentionally poisoned in New Mexico and three children under the age of five suffered a fatal poisoning.  Nationally, more than one million unintentionally poisoning of children were reported to U.S. poison control centers. 

"Children depend on parents and caregivers to protect them from poisons. Children under age 5 are most vulnerable to poisonings because of their curiosity and natural desire to put things into their mouths. They do not know what poison is and may not understand what "danger," "poison," "no," or any other warning means," said New Mexico Poison Center's Director, Jess Benson, Director.  "Most poisonings can be prevented if parents simply lock poisonous products up where children cannot see them or reach them."

In observance of National Poison Prevention Week, March 16-22, 2003, the New Mexico Poison Center offers these poison prevention tips:

  §         A smart and simple safety rule that can save a child's life is to keep all medicines, personal care products and household chemicals locked up where children cannot see them or reach them.

§          Use child-resistant caps correctly, but remember child-resistant does not mean child-proof.

§         Install safety latches on cabinets and drawers.

§         Supervise children when using a poisonous product and never leave a child alone with the poisonous product.  Many poisonings happen when adults are using a household product like a bathroom cleaner or bleach. Adults should know where children are when these products are in use.  It takes only seconds for a poisoning to occur.

§         Call medicine "medicine" not "candy." Children like to eat candy.

§         Do not take medicines in front of children because children like to imitate adults.

§         Store items such as mouthwash, after-shave, cologne, perfume, hair spray, shampoo, artificial fingernail remover and fingernail polish remover where children cannot reach them. 

§        Know the names of your house and yard plants, and know which ones are poisonous.

§        Teach children not to eat berries, seeds, plant food, mushrooms or any part of a plant.

§        Teach small children to "ask an adult first" before putting anything into their mouths.

§        Teach grandparents, relatives and caregivers to follow the poison prevention tips.  Grandparents' medicines can be very dangerous for children. 

§        Install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms and on each floor of your home.

§        Be prepared.  Place the Poison Center telephone number on or near your phone so it is easy to find in an emergency. The New Mexico Poison Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll free at 1-800-222-1222.

The New Mexico Poison Center is a public service program of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and is affiliated with the College of Pharmacy.  The Center is certified as a Regional Poison Center by the American Association of Poison Control Centers signifying national recognition of its status as an outstanding poison center. 


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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