Poison Prevention Week is March 16 to 22

Poison Control Centre handles 11,000 calls a year about child poisoning

VANCOUVER  – With nearly 50 per cent of all poisonings occurring among children younger than the age of six, the BC Drug and Poison Control Centre is reminding parents and caregivers this Poison Prevention Week (Mar. 16-22) to keep dangerous substances out of the reach of children.

“Most poisonings occur in and around the home,” said LeeAnne Hancock, a poison information nurse at the centre who has dealt with thousands of incidents in her 23-year career. “Dangerous substances need to be properly stored, out of sight and locked up tight.”

Hancock is one of 16 specially trained nurses and pharmacists at the centre who take calls from across the province, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Education is so important, especially for the caregivers of children,” said Debra Kent, the centre’s clinical supervisor. “Children are at particular poisoning risk due to their growing curiosity and rapidly developing physical capabilities as they progress from being a crawler to a toddler and to a climber.”

“Grandparents play a huge role too in preventing poisonings,” added Ray Li, a staff pharmacist with 21 years on the job.

“Grandparents’ medications are involved in up to 20 per cent of poisonings in young children,” Li said.

The top 10 categories of poisons in young children: household cleaners; pain relieving medication; cosmetics; foreign bodies; vitamins; plants; dietary supplements; skin creams.

The BC Drug and Poison Information Centre, part of the BC Centre for Disease Control, receives thousands of telephone calls each year about someone being poisoned. People can speak to trained poison information specialists 24 hours a day every day for advice and information. Call 1-800-567-8911.