Children at risk of poisonings in the home, warns Safe Kids Canada

New data shows many parents are not taking proper precautions to reduce the risk of poisoning from common household products

TORONTO, May 28, 2012 /CNW/ - A recent survey demonstrates a wide gap between what parents know they should do and their actual behavior when it comes to poison prevention in the home. The survey was conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of Safe Kids Canada, and is being unveiled today as part of the kick off to national Safe Kids Week: May 28 to June 3, 2012.

The poll showed nearly all parents (98 per cent) with children age 14 and under feel it's important to lock up medications and cleaning products. Yet half of them store medications in a medicine cabinet and more than 60 per cent store cleaning products under the sink. Unfortunately, these common spots are often too accessible to little hands. Each year an estimated seven children under 14 die and close to 1,700 end up in the hospital with serious injuries due to poisoning, according to hospital data.

"Young children are curious by nature and explore their environment by touching and putting things in their mouths," says Pamela Fuselli, the executive director of Safe Kids Canada. "So it's crucial to check your home for potential poisons and store them where children can't see them and lock them up so children can't get at them."

The most common causes of child poisoning are medications and cleaning products, as well as other household items like gardening and pest control products; car supplies like windshield washer fluid; health and beauty products like nail polish remover; and art supplies.

Selina Esteves, mother of three-year-old Hudson and six-year-old Ethan, now stores her family's medications in a locked box, out of sight of her children. Selina was motivated to take these important steps because Hudson recently ended up in the emergency department after drinking the contents of two bottles of children's medications.

"I thought he was in bed," says his mother. "But, he had dragged a stool over to the bathroom cupboard, climbed up the shelves and reached the family medicine bin. He then opened two child-resistant medicine bottles and drank them. Until the doctors told me he was fine, every worst-case scenario went through my mind."

"Poison centres across Canada receive about 160,000 phone calls each year and almost half of those calls are from frantic parents involving children younger than six," reports Dr. Martin Laliberté, president of the Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres. "Parents who think their child has been poisoned, should immediately contact the nearest poison centre or call 911."

Make your home a poison-proof zone
Here are five poison prevention tips to guide parents:

  • Buy medications with a child-resistant cap whenever possible and store all medications and vitamins in a locked box (a small toolbox with a combination lock or padlock works well). Keep the locked box, and the key, out of sight and out of reach of children.
  • Store household cleaners, like dishwasher detergent and bleach; car supplies, such as windshield washer fluid; cosmetics, like nail polish remover; and garden supplies like pesticides, in locked bins, cupboards or drawers. A child safety latch is an acceptable alternative.
  • Keep all medications and other household poisons in their original containers with their original labels.
  • Do not refer to medication as candy; children may seek it out when you're not around.
  • If you suspect your child has been poisoned, call your local poison centre or 911. Add the number of your area poison centre to your cell and home phones.

Safe Kids Week 2012
Today marks the launch of Safe Kids Week 2012, Out of Sight & Locked up Tight!, which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Inc., with community grants supported by Kidde Canada. Across Canada, Safe Kids Canada partners are conducting Out of Sight & Locked up Tight! events from May 28 to June 3, educating families on poison prevention in the home.

Spokespeople across Canada
Safe Kids Canada has local expert spokespeople in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, PEI, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Vancouver.

Media launch in Toronto
Media are invited to interview, in person, Selina Esteves and her son Hudson, as well Pamela Fuselli, executive director of Safe Kids Canada. They will be available between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday, May 28 at Selina's home. Dr. Margaret Thompson, medical director, Ontario Poison Centre will also be available there in person until noon. Photos can be taken with Selina and her son, and on-site examples of poison prevention practices will be given. Ms. Fuselli and Dr. Thompson will also be available at other times as necessary.

About Safe Kids Canada
Safe Kids Canada's mission is to lead and inspire a culture of safety across the country in order to reduce unintentional injuries, the leading cause of death among children and youth in Canada.  As a national leader, Safe Kids Canada uses a collaborative and innovative approach to develop partnerships, conduct research, raise awareness and advocate in order to prevent serious injuries among children, youth and their families. Our vision is Fewer Injuries. Healthier Children. A Safer Canada.  Safe Kids Canada is the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children. To learn more about Safe Kids Canada and child safety, visit

About Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is the founding sponsor of Safe Kids in North America (Canada, U.S., and Puerto Rico), and in 17 other countries around the world. In Canada, Johnson & Johnson Inc. also sponsors Safe Kids Week, Safe Kids Canada's largest annual public awareness program designed to help reduce the frequency and severity of preventable childhood injuries, the leading cause of death and disability of Canadian children. As part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, the employees of Johnson & Johnson Inc. in Canada are united and inspired by caring for the world, one person at a time. Together with our partners in health care we touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world. Johnson & Johnson has more than 250 operating companies in 57 countries around the world, employing 115,500 people and selling products in more than 175 countries. Johnson & Johnson worldwide headquarters is in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.  Johnson & Johnson Inc. Canadian head office is located in Markham, Ontario.

B-roll is available on Monday, May 28:

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Leger Marketing surveyed 1,039 adult Canadians with children aged 14 and under. The national online survey was conducted between April 2 and April 9, 2012.  A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of ±3.4%, 19 times out of 20.

Video with caption: "Video: Safe Kids Week 2012 : Poison Prevention ". Video available at:

Image with caption: "Selina Esteves, mother, and three-year-old Hudson who drank the contents of two bottles of children's medications. Hudson survived without repercussions, but Esteves wants Canadians to know they should keep potential poisons Out of Sight and Locked up Tight so they avoid going through a similar traumatic experience. (CNW Group/Safe Kids Canada)". Image available at:

PDF available at:

SOURCE: Safe Kids Canada

For further information:

To arrange interviews or for more information, contact:

David Mircheff / Sheba Zaidi
Environics Communications Inc.
416-969-2776 / 416-969-2652

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