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Education helps reduce risks of child poisoning

Children are natural explorers, and when it comes to medicines and chemicals in the home, it is vital that caregivers lock them out of reach.

More than 20,000 people are involved in accidental poisoning every year and more than half of these cases are in children under the age of six, according to the Poison Control Centre at B.C.’s Drug and Poison Information Centre.

“We receive almost 100 calls a day,” said Debra Kent, centre managing director.

Dr. Perry Kendall, provincial health officer, said poisoning in young children is usually unintentional and can be significantly reduced through increased education for all caregivers, including parents, grandparents and babysitters.

“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 out of reach of young children,” he said.

The most common poisonous substances children are exposed to include cough/cold medicines, pain and fever medicine, and plants and cleaners.

Many poisonings in children happen just before lunch or dinner when children are hungry and least supervised, as the caregiver is busy making a meal.

Parents and caregivers are urged to keep medicines in a locked cabinet or box, out of reach of children, and store chemicals and cleaners safely in a locked cabinet.

The B.C. Poison Control Centre is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-567-8911.