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University of Iowa News Release

March 10, 2003

Poison Control Center Warns of Child Poisoning Hazards

Unintentional childhood poisonings prompt more than a million calls to poison centers each year. In observance of National Poison Prevention Week March 16-22, the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center reminds families that "Children Act Fast...So Do Poisons."

During National Poison Prevention Week, poison control specialists are urging families to take every precaution to protect children against accidental poisonings. This year marks the 42nd observation of Poison Prevention Week.

In 2002, the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center (ISPCC) received nearly 14,000 calls regarding children accidentally exposed to a poison. More than 90 percent of childhood poisonings occur in the child's home.

"The typical American household is a potential toxic nightmare," said Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and education coordinator at the ISPCC. Noble, one of a staff of 10 specialists at the center, added, "Household products we rely on every day - medicines, cleaners, detergents and insecticides - can prove deadly if left within reach of young children."

Iowa poison control specialists recommend taking the following simple precautions in the home:

* Keep all household poisons and medicines in their original labeled containers Do not store poisonous products in food or beverage containers.

* Lock poisons and medicines out of sight and reach of children.

* Use child-resistant packaging when possible. Make sure lids are sealed properly and securely. Remember that nothing is child-proof.

* Read labels carefully before taking medicine or using chemicals.

* Never leave children alone with household products or medications. Many poisonings occur when the product is in use and the caregiver is momentarily distracted.

* Never tell children that medicine is "candy."

* Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicine.

* Install carbon monoxide detectors.

* Know the names of all the plants in your home and yard.

Prevention also means being prepared for an emergency. The phone number to the poison center should be posted near every phone in your home. Stickers with the poison control number are available by calling toll free (800) 222-1222 and asking for a poison prevention packet.

Additional poison prevention tips and educational information are available on the ISPCC's web site at

If you suspect someone has been exposed to a poison, call toll free (800) 222-1222 immediately for a treatment recommendation from the Iowa Statewide Poison Control. The service is free and confidential and also available for the hearing impaired and for non-English speakers. The Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center is a partnership of St. Luke's Regional Medical Center/Iowa Health System and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room 8798 JPP, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

CONTACT(S): Media: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, Program: Tammy Noble, (712) 279-3717,