2007-06-08 / Community

Huntley: Poison-Proof Your Home

State Senator Shirley L. Huntley has applauded National Safety Month, observed each year during June. In recognition of the annual event, she asked New York parents and guardians to set aside a little time to make sure their homes are safe for little ones.

"Most people regard their home as a safe haven in a stormy world, but home can be a dangerous place when it comes to accidental poisoning," Senator Huntley said. "As quickly as a toddler can act, so too can deadly poisons." According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, a child is accidentally poisoned in the United States every 39 seconds.

Each year, thousands of children ingest common household products, such as cleaners, paints, cosmetics, insect sprays and medicines. Data shows that 60 percent of all poisonings occur to children under the age of six. "The sad fact is that many of these terrible accidents could have easily been prevented, and painful (if not tragic) circumstances avoided, had family members taken simple steps to poison-proof their homes," the Queens lawmaker said.

The obvious first step, Senator Huntley said, is to keep all household chemicals and medicines out of sight and out of reach of children.

Other child safety suggestions include keeping all drugs, household products and pesticides in their original containers, following label instructions for use, and safely discarding outdated medicines.

Do not call medicine "candy," she urges, and avoid taking medicine in front of young children, who like to imitate adults.

Put medications in a place where no one else has access to them.

Do not leave household products out after use. Never leave children alone with household products or drugs.

Post a national toll free number- 1-800-222-1222- on or near every home phone and save it on your cell phone. This emergency line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, if a victim of poisoning has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911. With a bit more knowledge, families can protect their young ones from hurt and harm, Huntley says. For more safety tips, and information on how to handle a childhood poison emergency, visit the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics at www.aap.org .

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