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Every day, U.S. emergency rooms treat more than 300 children for poisoning; every 13 seconds, a Poison Control Center receives a call. More than 90 percent of poisoning incidents occur in the home.

Hazards lurk not only in chemicals marked with warning labels, but ordinary household items as well.  Cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies, and medicine also pose threats — especially to children. Therefore, it’s important to know how to poison proof your home and protect your family.

The main cause of poisoning among U.S. children comes from lead-based paint and dust containing lead. Homes built before 1978 are more likely to contain lead-based paint. As the paint ages, it flakes and becomes a dust that causes health problems for children who inhale it. Massachusetts Lead Law requires homes built before 1978 to be inspected for lead paint. If hazards are found, and a child under six lives there, the home must be deleaded.

Following these seven tips from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) can help you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy year-round.

  1. Put safety latches on drawers and cabinets containing harmful household products and keep all hazardous materials out of reach of children.
  2. When available, buy products in child-resistant packaging and store all household products and medications in their original wrapping.
  3. Always store food and household cleaners in separate places to avoid contamination.
  4. Keep children away from poisonous plants and pesticides that may be in or around your home.
  5. Watch children carefully when playing indoors and outdoors; know how to handle animal bites and stings.
  6. Protect against the dangers of carbon monoxide by installing CO detectors in your home. Also, never leave a car running inside a garage. Even if the door is open, fumes will build up quickly inside the home.
  7. Post the number for the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention, (800) 222-1222, near all telephones in your home.

If you think someone has been poisoned, call the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention immediately. Use this emergency checklist to guide you on what information to tell the poison expert on the phone. Do not wait for the victim to look or feel sick. Do not try to treat the person. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 for an ambulance.

What are your poison prevention tips? Comment below or tweet us at @MassGov.


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