PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
March 18, 2014

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Department of Health Recognizes National Poison Prevention Week (March 16- 22)

In observance of National Poison Prevention Week, Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd reminded residents to ensure that medications, pesticides, cleaning products and other hazardous materials are safely locked away or appropriately discarded to prevent unintentional poisonings.

More than 1,310 New Jersey children under the age of six were treated in emergency rooms in 2012 and more than 160 children were admitted to the hospital for unintentional poisonings.

 "Parents, grandparents and other caregivers can take an active role in child proofing their home by going through medicine cabinets, closets, pantries, garages and other locations where hazardous materials may be present to make sure that harmful items are safely out of the reach of children," Commissioner O'Dowd said.

Tips to follow to keep children and others safe include:

  • Install a safety latch - that locks when you close the door - on child-accessible cabinets containing harmful products
  • Use products that include child-resistant packaging whenever possible
  • Never refer to medicine as "candy" or another appealing name
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage
  • Ask babysitters, visitors, and house guests to keep purses, briefcases or bags that contain medicines locked up and out of sight from your children
  • Never take more than the prescribed amount of medicine or "borrow" a friend's medicine
  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers with their original labels intact
  • Never place dangerous substances in food or drink containers
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors (CO) and fire alarms
  • Keep laundry detergent pods locked up at all times

In 2013, the state's Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) received 56,965 calls, including 47,643 relating to exposure to poison and 9,322 requests for information. 42% of the calls relating to exposure involved children under the age of 5.

NJPIES serves NJ residents through its free 24/7 emergency and information hotline at 800-222-1222. The hotline is staffed by health care professionals (doctors, nurses and pharmacists). All calls are free and confidential. NJPIES provides the public with immediate help in poisoning emergencies as well as in situations where someone is just a little worried. NJ Poison Control Center experts can assist callers of all ages and those who speak languages other than English. No question is too small and most cases can be resolved over the phone, usually avoiding an expensive, unnecessary trip to the emergency room. More information is available on NJPIES at http://njpies.org/">http://njpies.org/

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that on average, 87 people die each day as a result of unintentional poisoning; another 2,277 are treated in emergency departments. More from the CDC is available at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/PoisonPrevention/">http://www.cdc.gov/Features/PoisonPrevention/.

Nationally, more than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the 57 poison control centers across the country, according to the Poison Prevention Week Council. More than 90% of these poisonings occur in the home.

National Poison Prevention Week was established by the U.S. Congress in 1961 to focus national attention on the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them.

More information on National Poison Prevention Week is available at http://poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/index.html">http://poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/index.html.