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Press Release # 017-06
Friday, March 17, 2006

DOHMH - MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (After Hours)
Sandra Mullin (
Andrew Tucker (
Wayne Petinaud (


National Poison Prevention Week Is March 19-25

NEW YORK CITY – March 17, 2006 – In advance of National Poison Prevention Week, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) today reminded all New Yorkers to take steps to prevent unintended poisonings in the home. Storing prescription medications and household products away from young children, installing carbon monoxide detectors, and discarding all expired medications can prevent serious injury and death.

“Children are the most vulnerable to unintended poisonings, but these accidents can be prevented,” said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. “Even the most common household products can be toxic and potentially fatal if misused, mixed or left untreated. Parents and caregivers can prevent tragedies by taking simple precautions such as keeping potentially hazardous materials out of the reach of our children and pets.”

Dr. Robert Hoffman, Director of the City's Poison Control Center, said, “Adults and seniors who may not be able to read the caution labels on medication or products are also at high risk of unintentional poisoning. It is imperative that the warnings and expiration dates on prescriptions and household products are honored and hazardous materials are properly discarded.”

Warning signs of a possible poisoning may include an open nearby container, strange odors, burns around the mouth, profuse sweating, drooling, upset stomach or nausea, convulsions, drowsiness, dizziness, and/or unconsciousness. Common household products such as cleaners and detergents, mouthwash, and plants can be poisonous. If you are unsure whether a particular item is poisonous, New Yorkers can contact the City's Poison Control Center by calling 1 (800) 222-1222.

“In the event of an unintended poisoning, try to remain calm. If the victim is unconscious and not breathing, call 911. If the victim is coherent and alert, contact the New York City Poison Control Center at 1 (800) 222-1222,” said Dr. Hoffman. “Gather the container or bottle of the poisonous material, if possible, and relay that information to the poison specialist so they can recommend immediate treatment for the victim as the paramedics are in transport. Some symptoms may take hours to develop, but do not take chances. If you suspect that someone has been poisoned, seek medical attention immediately.”

During National Poison Prevention Week, workshops will be conducted to educate children, parents and staff about how to prevent unintentional poisonings. In addition to workshops in English, Spanish and Chinese, a poison prevention video is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin).

The New York City Poison Control Center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist with emergencies at 1-800-222-1222. Information is provided in English and translation services are available in 150 other languages. All calls are free and confidential. Prevention materials are available, free of charge, in English, Spanish, Chinese, Creole, Russian, and Bengali at 1-800-222-1222 or online at

Poison Control Prevention
  • Keep all poisons in a cabinet out of reach of children and pets; use cabinet safety locks.
  • Never store food products with non-food items.
  • Store products in original containers. Never store poisons in a food or beverage container.
  • Use child-resistant containers whenever possible. Be sure they are closed properly.
  • Throw away expired medicine.
  • Wear your glasses and keep the lights on when taking medicine.
  • Never call medicine candy. Children should understand the difference.
  • Keep plants up high and out of reach. Some plants are poisonous.
  • Teach children to always ask an adult before eating, drinking or touching anything.
  • Read the label and follow directions for medicines and cleaning products.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors
  • Follow directions on label when taking medicines. Be aware of potential interactions with other medicines or alcohol and never share prescription drugs.
  • Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products.
  • Wear protective clothing (gloves, long pants, long sleeves, socks, shoes) when spraying pesticides and other chemicals.
  • Never mix household and chemical products together; this may create a poisonous gas.
  • Do not burn fuels or charcoal in confined spaces (e.g., garages, tents, or poorly ventilated rooms).
  • Don't ever warm-up a car in a garage, even with the garage door open. In less than two minutes gas fumes can build to lethal concentrations.
  • Make certain your vehicles are tuned up; c heck and repair exhaust system leaks.
What to do if a poisoning exposure occurs:
  1. Try to remain calm
  2. If you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing call 911. If you have a poison exposure and the victim is alert call 1-800-222-1222. Try to have the following information ready if possible:
    • the person's age and estimated weight
    • the container or bottle of the poisonous product, if available
    • time that the poison exposure occurred
    • your name and phone number
  3. Follow the instructions from the emergency specialist or the poison control center



New York City Poison Control Center