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Poison Control Reminds Parents to Protect Children

Posted - Mar. 16, 2006 at 4:11 p.m.

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John Hollenhorst ReportingImagine your kid swallowing a bunch of poison. That frightening scenario happens tens of thousands of times a year in this country. Safety officials are trying to get the word out that parents can do something about it to keep their kids safe.

In some ways this is a good news story. Safety officials in Washington pointed out today that accidental fatal poisonings are way down, off by more than 90 percent from the 1960's. That's partly because parents are getting smarter about it.

Nurses and pharmacists at the Utah Poison Control Center answer 54,000 calls a year; that's an astounding 150 a day! More than 60 percent involve poisonings of children under six, well above the national average.

Marty Malheiro, Poison Control Center: "Probably the sheer number of children, which is greater, makes it more difficult for the caregiver to keep an eye on each and every one."

Kids do tend to get into things when no one is looking. They're especially attracted to medicines and cleaning products that look like soda pop or fruit flavors. National safety officials today said 85,000 poisoned toddlers went to emergency rooms in one year.

Hal Stratton, Chairman, Consumer Products Safety Commission: "That's one child visiting an emergency room every six minutes as a result of poisoning."

It happened to this family. Kristy Thompson's two-year-old gobbled some prescription drugs she took from a purse. She wants other parents to know they need to keep dangerous products capped and locked up.

Kristy Thompson, Mother of Victim: "And to always know where your children are and what they're doing. Things happen quickly and in a short amount of time accidents happen."

But most poisonings occur when parents unlock the cabinets and uncap the bottles to put the products to use. Child poisoning calls jump sharply late in the day when parents are busiest and most distracted.

Marty Malheiro: "Kids getting home from school, kids waking up from naps, more kids around, parents busy, getting home from work, trying to take care of all the kids needs, meal preparation, talking on the phone."

The best advice is to keep the kid away from the poison.

Marty Malheiro: "If the doorbell rings, if the phone rings, take the child with you so you just don't even run the risk."

Experts recommend you keep the phone number for the Poison Control Center handy near each phone. That number is 800-222-1222.

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