Winter 2015 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

Poison Control Centers Want to Partner with Early Educators

Poison Control Centers Want to Partner with Early Educators

Poison control centers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their staff respond to poisoning emergencies and information calls from the public and from healthcare providers. They educate parents and caregivers of children about prevention. The risk of poisoning is highest among children less than 2 years of age.  Most poisonings happen when adults are busy and not paying close attention to an exploring child. Children like to taste even things that smell bad.

Early education programs are an ideal place to provide poison prevention education. The children can learn to ask an adult before touching or tasting anything that may not be safe. Parents can receive materials about how to keep dangerous items out of reach. They can make their home safer by storing hazardous products and medicines in their original containers, in locked cabinets out of sight. They should not store everyday items like soap, toothpaste and shampoo in the same place as dangerous products. Any product with a child-resistive cap should have that cap on tight. Those caps are not child-proof, but they give adults more time to stop the child from being poisoned. Families can learn when and how to call the poison center number, 800-222-1222, and what to do in case of a poisoning.

The staff of early care and education programs should know how to contact the poison control center using the nationwide toll-free number. Some may still have a direct dial number on or near their phone for their local poison center. Poison control centers give out educational materials all year long. The materials may include posters with poison prevention tips, stickers with the poison control national toll-free number, coloring books, games, or a full teach-the-teacher program guide.

Poison control centers seek publicity for this educational work during Poison Prevention Week, the third full week of March every year. However, they distribute educational materials throughout the year. See what your poison control center can give you to teach children, staff and families how to stay safe from poisons.

The United States has 55 poison control centers. Some poison control centers have educators who can come to the early education facility to teach children staff and parents about poison prevention. Some of these educators can help early care and education staff put together poison prevention programs to carry out in the facility. Early educators don’t need to take on poison prevention alone. Poison control centers will help them prevent poisonings.

Article contributed by Allison A. Muller, Pharm.D, D.ABAT