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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
March 25, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner
(609) 984-7160

Children Act Fast ... So Do Poisons! March 21 - 27 is National Poison Prevention Week


TRENTON – It can take only a few seconds for a child to reach for and ingest poisonous household cleaners, cosmetics or medications and sustain serious injury or death. Parents need to be aware of the potentially harmful products in their homes and take steps to protect their children from poisoning.

“The best way to prevent poisoning is to identify household products that could harm a small child or pet, and make certain these products are kept locked up and out of reach,’’ said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

 To raise awareness of how fast a child can be poisoned, the theme of this year’s National Poison Prevention Week (March 21-27) is “Children Act Fast … So Do Poisons.”

Most preventable poisonings occur at home and young children are the most frequent victims. Nationally, more than two million poisonings occur each year, resulting in nearly 500,000 visits to health care professionals, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 30 youngsters under five years of age die of poisoning each year.

New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES), also known as the Poison Control Center, is located at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark. It is the regionally designated poison and drug information center for the state. It has been providing emergency treatment advice and prevention information for 20 years. Poison experts are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a hotline: 1-800-222-1222. The NJPIES hotline is part of a national network of poison centers. 

“Keep the telephone number of the poison control center on or near each telephone in the house,” Dr. Lacy said. “If a toxic exposure occurs, call the poison control center first. Do not give anything by mouth until advised by the poison control center.’’

NJPIES responded to more than 90,000 calls from citizens last year and half of those calls involved children under the age of six. The Poison Control Center is supported by grants from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and member hospitals.

Trained medical specialists guide callers through appropriate actions in the event of a poisoning or potentially toxic exposure. NJPIES will call an ambulance if necessary, give treatment advice to an ambulance crew, and call a hospital emergency department so preparations can be made for an incoming poisoning case.

Commissioner Lacy encourages parents to survey their homes for poisoning hazards. “The most common sources of toxic exposures for children are cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning substances, pain relievers, and plants.” Lacy said.

The Department of Health and Senior Services offers the following tips to help keep New Jersey youngsters safe from poisonings:

  • Buy medicines and household products in child-resistant packaging.  Keep vitamins and other products in their original packages.
  • Store all medicines and household products – even those with child-resistant containers – in a locked closet or cabinet. 
  • Make sure visiting grandparents, friends or caregivers keep their medications out of the reach of children.
  • Never refer to vitamins or medicine as “candy.”
  • If you are called away while in the process of using a household cleaning product or taking medication, either take the child with you or take the hazardous substance with you.
  • Remove all non-essential drugs and household products from your home.
  • Never leave alcohol within a child’s reach.
  • If you have or care for small children, avoid keeping highly toxic products such as drain cleaners in the home, garage, shed or any other place children can reach.
  • Teach children not to eat or drink anything unless it is given to them by an adult.
  • Know the names of the plants in your house and yard.  Identify poisonous plants and either place them out of reach of children or remove them entirely.

For health information, please visit the DHSS website at For further information about poisoning, contact NJPIES at 1-800-222-1222 or visit the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) web site at  Information is also available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site:

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