National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25th; Program Poison Control Hotline (800) 222-1222 in your Phone!

Modified: March 17, 2017 4:52pm

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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date: March 19, 2017                                

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925


National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25th

Program Poison Control Hotline (800)222-1222 in Your Phone!

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Each year, more than 2 million people – about half of them under age 6 years – swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, approximately 90% of poisonings happen at home, and 51% of poisonings involve children under the age of 6 years. The majority of fatal poisonings occur among adults, especially older adults.

All around us, there are potential hazards that we may not even know exist -- ordinary cleaning products, medications, hand sanitizers – that can lead to a trip to the emergency room.

Poisons are any substance causing an undesirable reaction that can impair, injure, or cause death.

Unintentional poisonings also commonly occur through the misuse or abuse of medications. Whether prescription or over-the-counter, drugs should only ever be taken as prescribed. In addition, children may believe that many over- the-counter products –such as laxatives or vitamins –are chocolate or gummy candy. In addition, laundry detergent packets are falling into the hands – and mouths – of growing numbers of young children, with serious and sometimes fatal consequences. Keep them out of reach of curious hands!

“By educating local residents about preventative steps in the home, I believe we can make serious progress in keeping our loved ones safe,” said Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “It is vital that people arm themselves with basic information on poison prevention in the home, such as keeping chemicals out of the reach of children and carefully reading the labels and dosages on all products.”

To prevent poisoning in your home:

  • Most poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home but not paying attention. The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products (including laundry detergent packets), liquid nicotine, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil.
  • Be especially vigilant when there is a change in routine. Holidays, visits to and from grandparents' homes, and other special events may bring greater risk of poisoning if the usual safeguards are not in place.logo
  • Store medicine, cleaning and laundry products (including detergent packets), paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children. It is best to use traditional liquid or powder laundry detergents instead of colorful detergent packets until all children who live in or visit your home are at least 6 years old.
  • Safety latches that automatically lock when you close a cabinet door can help keep children away from dangerous products, but there is always a chance the device will malfunction. The safest place to store poisonous products is somewhere a child can't see or reach. 
  • Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps and keep out of reach of children. Discard unused medication safely, such as in one of the many Drug Disposal kiosks throughout Erie County. Note that safety caps are designed to be child resistant but are not fully child proof.
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage. For liquid medicines, use the dosing device that came with the medicine. Never use a kitchen spoon. Never refer to medicine as "candy" or another appealing name.
  • If you use an e-cigarette, keep the liquid nicotine refills locked up out of children's reach and only buy refills that use child resistant packaging. A small amount of liquid nicotine spilled on the skin or swallowed can be fatal to a child. Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers.
  • Keep coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Secure remote controls, key fobs, greeting cards, and musical children's books. These and other devices may contain small button-cell batteries that can cause injury if ingested.

“I strongly urge everyone to program the 24/7 Poison Control Hotline number, 1-800-222-1222 into their phones, especially parents of small children or caregivers for elderly adults,” said Burstein. “In an emergency, every second counts and the information from the Hotline could help save a life.”

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For More Information:

Upstate New York Poison Center

Poison Help Web site

American Academy of Pediatrics

National Poisoning Prevention Council

Erie County: Locations of Drug Disposal Kiosk Sites

Frequently Requested



Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

ECDOH Locations