With our children back in the classroom, Halloween less than two weeks away and the cold and flu season practically in full swing, the Ocean County Health Department is reminding parents to keep their children safe from the threat of unintentional poisonings. The New Jersey Poison Information and Education System reports that each year more than two million poison exposures occur in the United States, with more than half involving children under the age of 5.
Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health, said, “Even in the safest of homes, poisonings can happen. That’s why parents need to know what’s safe and what’s not. Medicines, school supplies, arts and crafts, cleaning products and cosmetics can all be deadly. It’s also important for parents to be prepared and know what to do in case of a poison emergency.”
Parents should start with ensuring all cold, flu and other prescription and non-prescription medicines are secured in child-proof containers and locked away where children cannot see or reach them, particularly those medicines that taste, smell and look like candy or drinks. Always refer to medicines – including vitamins – by their proper names and never call them candy. Adults should never let their children see them take medicine.
Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, chairman of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, added, “For our seniors that have young grandchildren and have expired prescription or other unused medicines they need to dispose of, they can drop them off at one of the many prescription medicine drop-off boxes located throughout the county. Seniors should always remember to secure their medications and keep them out of harm’s way when the grandkids come to visit.”
Children of all ages enjoy making Halloween decorations and costumes, but it’s crucial parents know that many art supplies such as ink, makeup, glue and paint are a dangerous mix of chemicals that can lead to injury if not used or stored correctly. Parents should always supervise young children using art supplies. It’s important to read labels carefully, and follow directions for safe use and disposal; the same goes for the products they use when cleaning up after a project.
Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD public health officer, included, “Parents should always keep an eye on young children because they tend to want to put small, colorful art and other dangerous products in their mouths. Make sure to never let children eat or drink when working on art projects. Contamination or mistaking a beverage or food with a poisonous substance is easy to do.”
One of the most important resources available for parents to learn and teach their children about poison prevention is the New Jersey Poison Information Education System. You can visit its website, njpies.org. The poison hotline number is 800-222-1222 and should always be kept in a prominent place in every household for easy access along with your local fire and police department emergency numbers.
You can find a complete list of prescription medicine drop-off sites at ochd.org/. You can also follow the health department on Twitter@publichealth or like the Ocean County Health Department on Facebook.