Mind & Body

Out of reach . . . Out of sight

 | March 12, 2010

Unintentional poisonings in B.C. are all too common, affecting more than 20,000 people each year, with half of those cases in children under six years of age.

These alarming statistics make this year’s Poison Prevention Week (March 14– 20) campaign all the more important. The 2010 campaign — Out of Reach… Out of Sight — is aimed at creating greater community awareness and providing education to prevent poisonings, as well as offering first aid steps to take in the event of an emergency.

“Poisoning in young children is usually unintentional and can be significantly reduced through increased education for all caregivers, including parents, grandparents and babysitters,” says Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall. “Many of these poisonings can be prevented by understanding how they occur, who is most at risk, and by ensuring hazardous substances are safely stored and out of reach of young children. As well, in the event of a poisoning, caregivers need to be aware of the services of the B.C. Poison Control Centre – an essential component of public health services in our province that can be accessed by dialling 1-800-567-8911.”

“We receive over 70 calls a day,” explains Debra Kent, Supervisor for the Poison Control Centre at B.C.’s Drug and Poison Information Centre. “Many of these poisonings can be managed at home with the advice of the Poison Control Centre, so we want to remind parents, caregivers and friends to call even if they are not sure. The B.C. Poison Control Centre is available anywhere in B.C., 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and is staffed by specially trained nurses and pharmacists.”

The most common “poisons” that children get into are cough/cold medicines, pain and fever medicine, plants and cleaners. Many poisonings in children happen just before lunch or dinner when children are hungry and least supervised. “It’s important to remember that child-proof caps can be opened by children and are actually only child-resistant”, continues Kent. “We would like to remind parents to ensure that after medicines and cleaners have been used, they must be stored in a safe place out of reach and out of sight.”

In B.C., poisoning is one of the top 3 causes of death from injury, and it has been estimated that unintentional poisonings cost British Columbians $216 million annually in both direct and indirect costs. Many of these poisonings can be prevented by following directions on product labels, ensuring hazardous substances are put away safely and keeping medicines and cleaners out of reach of young children.

On March 14 – 20, please join the B.C. Drug and Poison Information Centre in promoting National Poison Prevention Week and “Out of Reach …Out of Sight”.

For more information on the B.C. Drug and Poison Information Centre and Poison Prevention Week, please visit www.dpic.org. Colour posters, pamphlets in multiple languages, phone stickers, and refrigerator magnets are free of charge for BC residents. They can be obtained from the website, by email at [email protected], or by phone at 1-800-567-8911.

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