March is Poison Prevention Month–Time to Inspect Your Home for Poison Hazards

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Posted on March 5th, 2012 by Christina Becker in Consumers, Places/Events

Chris Becker, our busy Consumer and Youth Pesticide Education Specialist, wrote this blog to kick off the beginning of our month long outreach, with the help of many Master Gardeners, to 1st grade students across the state.

Spring into Action

Have you taken the time lately to look, really look, around your home for poison hazards that could lead to an accidental poisoning? We, here at the Pesticide Education Program, take poison prevention very seriously. Accidental poisonings are a major concern. There are more than 2 million poisonings reported annually to 57 poison centers across the country. More than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home. Just over one-half of the poisonings occur in children younger than six years old.

With poisonings being such a concern, we all need to take some time to scope out the hazards in our homes that could lead to a poisoning. What better time to do so than in March with the onset of spring and spring cleaning. Not to mention that March is Poison Prevention Month and March 18 – 24 is Poison Prevention Week.

50 Years and Counting

This year is a celebration year for the Poison Prevention Program, and the National Poison Prevention Council responsible for coordinating the annual event, established by the U.S. Congress in 1961. It’s the 50th anniversary. Fifty years of bringing an increased awareness to the dangers of poison and how to prevent them. Fifty years of programming helping to protect children as well as the whole family.

Poison Prevention Program through Penn State Pesticide Education

We at Pesticide Education are excited about the month of March and our educational outreach activities designed to teach children about poison prevention. Through our partnership with county Master Gardener programs and high school Agricultural programs, we will reach out to 1st grade students with an interesting presentation designed to teach children safe practices with chemicals. The program is scheduled to be received by over 8,000 students in 26 counties throughout the month.

Chris with children in front of Linden Avenue School in 2011

The base of the program is a unique lesson that teaches children about the need for poison prevention, what pests are, ways that pests are controlled including chemical controls, the need for chemical safety in the home, safe practices to prevent accidental poisonings, and what to do if a poisoning occurs. During the lesson children learn about Mr. Yuk and how to use him. They even learn his song and all the unique facial expressions and signs that make the song loads of fun. Next week’s blog will discuss last year’s poster contest and how children from Kindergarten through 8th grade can participate in this year’s contest.

Keep all chemicals out of the reach of children!

Remember March is Poison Prevention Month

March has arrived and spring is definitely in the air. When doing your spring cleaning this year, remember to evaluate areas in your home for potential problems with household chemicals and put safe practices into play including:

Locate acceptable areas to store potentially dangerous chemicals in the home.

  • Chemicals should be kept in a locked area and/or
  • Chemicals should be kept up high out of the reach of children and pets.

Keep products in their original containers, with labels attached, because

  • Young children, who can’t yet read, and sometimes senior citizens, who often have decreased vision, associate drinking with the color of the liquid and shape of the container.
  • To kids, the liquid in the unmarked containers on the left looks like apple juice, when in fact it could be weed control, fuel, etc.

Identify the four signal words, what they signify, and where to find them on chemical products.

  • Caution – slightly toxic
  • Warning – moderately toxic
  • Danger – can cause severe skin or eye irritation
  • Danger Poison – highly toxic or deadly

Learn about using Mr. Yuk including who he is, why he was developed, and where he should be used.

Until next time,
Be Safe!