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Press Release

Press Release # 019-08
Monday, March 17, 2008

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Jessica Scaperotti:;
Sara Markt:
Celina De Leon:


Everyday Products Including Soap and Bleach are Top Poisons for Kids Under 5

National Poison Prevention Week is March 16-22, 2008

New Yorkers Can Call 212-POISONS for Help

NEW YORK CITY - Monday, March 17, 2008 – Common household products such as perfume or mouthwash are the source of about one in four poisonings in children under five in New York City.  To mark National Poison Prevention Week, which is this week, the Health Department reminded parents and caregivers to poison-proof their homes and keep products that young children could accidentally ingest out of reach. The city’s Poison Control Center received nearly 70,000 calls in 2007, the Health Department reported, 35% of which were for children under five years old.

poison ControlAbout 90% of poisonings occur in the home. “Common household products can be dangerous to children,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Health Commissioner for New York City. “Make sure you keep cleaners, medicines, and cosmetics out of the reach of children and locked in cabinets, whenever possible. If your child is exposed to something potentially toxic, call 212-POISONS right away for help.”

Top Ten Poisons For Kids Under Five (2007)



Number of Calls in 2007

1. Cosmetic/personal care

hand soap, shampoo


2. Household Cleaners

bleach, ammonia, detergent


3. Foreign Bodies

silica packets from bags/shoes


4. Topical

diaper rash cream, petroleum jelly


5. Analgesics

ibuprofen, acetaminophen


6. Pesticides/Rodenticides

bait pellets


7. Vitamins



8. Cough & Cold

cough syrup, cold medicine


9. Arts/Crafts

crayons, glue


10. Antibiotics

liquid prescription medication


“Poisonings in the home are preventable,” said Dr. Robert Hoffman, Director of the New York City Poison Control Center. “If you are unsure if a product could be hazardous, lock it up or put it out of reach to be safe. And if you have a question about a product or label, call Poison Control for more information.”

Poisoning Prevention – What You Should Do to Keep Your Family Safe

Most poisonings are preventable. Parents and caregivers should take the following steps to poison proof their homes.

  • poison ControlIdentify the things inside and outside your home that are poisons.
  • Keep poisons out of children’s reach and use cabinet safety locks.
  • Keep products in their original containers and make sure bottles are labeled.
  • Use child-resistant containers. Be sure they are closed.
  • Never keep non-food items with food.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in sleeping areas.
  • Keep plants up high and out of reach.
  • Post the Poison Control Center number on all telephones and be sure that babysitters and family members know where the number is posted.
Poisoning in Kids - How to Know and What To Do

Some signs of a poisoning are:

  • an open container nearby
  • pills, berries, etc. in the mouth
  • strange odor on the breath
  • burns around the mouth
  • upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or unconsciousness

If you think that a poisoning has occurred, call the Poison Control Center at 212-POISONS (764-7667). Be ready to answer these questions:

  • Your name and the name of the victim
  • The telephone number you are calling from
  • The name and amount of substance involved
  • The age and weight of the victim
  • How long ago the poisoning happened
  • The victim's symptoms

All calls are kept confidential. Do not stick your finger down the person's throat to make the person vomit or give anything by mouth unless told to do so by the Poison Control Center or a doctor. If the patient is unconscious, convulsing, or having trouble breathing, call 911 right away.

Building Awareness in Chinese and Latino Communities

The Health Department staff conducted extensive outreach in the Latino and Chinese communities in 2007 including distributing more than 200,000 brochures in multiple languages, providing 80 educational sessions, and airing public service announcements on Chinese and Latino radio. Interviews and focus groups conducted in 2006 with caregivers of young children in these communities suggested that some parents are not familiar with the Poison Control Center and that some feared that no one could speak their language if they called. Others said they did not call because they did not want to be perceived as a bad parent. The Health Department has worked to get the word out that Poison Control services are confidential and non-judgmental. They are available in Spanish, Chinese, as well as many other languages.

About the Poison Control Center

The New York City Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Pharmacists and nurses certified in poison information are there to give advice. All calls are free and confidential and translation services are provided.