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Press Release

Press Release # 012-10
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Jessica Scaperotti/Zoe Tobin:

Health Department Reminds Parents to Keep Hazardous Household Items Away From Children

National Poison Prevention Week is March 14 – 20: Poison Control Center launches Facebook page to provide rapid communications about poisoning and medication safety

March 17, 2010 – Common household products were a leading cause of unintentional poisonings in New York City last year, prompting nearly 70,000 calls to the City’s Poison Control Center, the Health Department reported today. Household and environmental chemicals were the leading causes of poisoning, but the center also received nearly 8,000 calls about medication poisonings in children less than 5 years old. Simple precautions could have prevented most of these exposures.

To mark National Poison Prevention Week, the Health Department has launched an NYC Poison Prevention Facebook page to raise awareness of poison prevention and medicine safety. The site, available through, also offers tips for keeping homes safe and provides resources from the Poison Control Center.

“Common household products can be dangerous in a child’s hands,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Even a relatively low dose of an otherwise harmless substance can cause serious injury. Keep household chemicals and medications out of children’s reach or locked in cabinets. If your child is exposed to something dangerous, call 212-POISONS right away for help.”

Top Reasons for Calls to Poison Control Center for
Children Under Five (2009)



Number of Calls

1. Cosmetic/personal care

hand soap, shampoo


2. Household Cleaners

Bleach, ammonia, detergent


3. Analgesics

ibuprofen, acetaminophen


4. Foreign Bodies

silica packets from bags/shoes


5. Topical

diaper rash cream, petroleum jelly


6. Vitamins

Multivitamins and dietary supplements


7. Pesticide/Rodenticides

bait pellets


8. Arts/Crafts

crayons, glue


9. Cough & Cold

cough syrup, cold medicine


10. Antihistamines

Allergy medicine


Medicine Safety: Tips for Parents
  • Know the right dose for your child. It will vary according to the medicine and the child’s weight.
  • Read the label and ask questions about dosing.
  • Never call medicine candy.
  • Use child-resistant containers, but remember nothing is child-proof.
  • Keep medicines in their original containers.
  • Post the Poison Control Center number (212-POISONS) on all telephones, and save it in your cell phone.
Poison Help 800-222-1222Poisoning 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 suspect that a poisoning has occurred, call the Poison Control Center at 212-POISONS (764-7667) right away. Waiting for symptoms can be life-threatening. All calls are kept confidential. Do not induce vomiting or give anything by mouth without consulting a doctor or the Poison Control Center. If the patient is unconscious, convulsing or having trouble breathing, call 911 right away.

Poison Control in New York City

In 2009, the Health Department distributed brochures in different languages to raise awareness of poison prevention and medicine safety. The agency also conducted educational sessions in English, Spanish and Chinese. Educational materials are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Russian and Bengali.

The New York City Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pharmacists and nurses certified in poison information are always available to give advice. All calls are free and confidential. Translation services are provided in more than 150 languages.