Poison Prevention Week 2023: Safe Storage, Safe Environment

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Each year in Canada, over 1,500 people lose their lives, and nearly 8,000 are hospitalized due to unintentional poisoning. A poison is a substance that can make you sick if you swallow it, taste it, smell it, get it on your skin, or get it in your eye. With so many poisons in our homes, from household cleaners to cannabis, medications, and more, it’s essential to learn how to store them safely and away from children.

During Poison Prevention Week (March 20-24, 2023), the Atlantic Canada Poison Centre team and Child Safety Link join forces to remind the public that they can reduce the likelihood of being poisoned at home. This year’s campaign theme, Safe Storage Safe Environment, aims to educate parents and caregivers about avoiding toxic fume exposures at home and providing safe storage tips for common household chemicals. 

Every year in Canada, more than 300 people die, and 200 more are hospitalized from home carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. “Carbon Monoxide gas is known as the silent killer,” says MaryAnne Carew, RN and Certified Specialist in Poison Information at the Atlantic Canada Poison Centre, “because you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, and you can’t taste it. The only way to detect CO is through a CO alarm. This is especially important in homes with fuel-burning appliances like wood or gas fireplaces, gas stoves, oil furnaces, etc.”

Child Safety Link wants everyone to be aware of all the potential CO risks in their home, says Sandra Newton, Manager of Child Safety Link, the child and youth injury prevention program at IWK Health. “All fuel-burning appliances should be checked by a certified inspector every year to make sure they are functioning properly and safely.”

Ensuring your home has the proper safety features, like a CO alarm, is only one step in creating a safe environment for your family. Making sure all household poisons are correctly stored is vital to protecting young kids in the home. “We like to say that nothing is childproof because if a child wants to get to something, they’ll always figure out a way,” says MaryAnne. “The best way to protect children is always to store medication, cleaning products, and other toxins in locked, high, or other places that young children will not be able to reach. Keep your handbag up high and out of reach of young children. Many items commonly carried in purses, such as nicotine products, pills, hand sanitizers, and cosmetics, could injure a child. If you use alcohol or any kind of cannabis products, keep them locked up.” 

If you think you or a loved one has been poisoned, CALL 1-844-POISON-X (1-844-764-7669) 

Check out Child Safety Link’s poison subsite and Child Safety Link’s Facebook page for all their safety tips during Poison Prevention Week. 

March 20-24, 2023, is Poison Prevention Week.