50,000 Ontarians are poisoned each year, according to the Ontario Poison Centre

    TORONTO, March 15 /CNW/ - Every year, more than 50,000 people in Ontario
are poisoned. An estimated 95 per cent of these poisonings occur in the home,
resulting from the improper use and storage of such common household items as
cleaners, car products, medications, vitamins, cosmetics, perfumes, plants and
even toothpaste. During this year's Poison Prevention Week (March 18 - 24),
the Ontario Poison Centre will work to educate Ontarians about poison
prevention at home.
    "Poisons are everywhere and affect everyone. Young children are at the
highest risk for poisoning, but 44 per cent of our cases involve adults.
Nearly any substance can be poisonous if it is used in the wrong way, by the
wrong person or in the wrong amount," says Heather Ferries, nurse educator for
the Ontario Poison Centre.
    The Ontario Poison Centre offers several tips on how to reduce the risk
of unintentional poisoning in your home:

    Store products in their original containers. Harmful products are
packaged in distinctive containers that are labeled with important
instructions and warning symbols. When a poison is moved to a different
container for convenient use, it immediately becomes less recognizable as a
dangerous substance and essential safety information is lost.

    Never put harmful products in a drinking container. Chemicals can easily
be confused with beverages, especially if placed in a water or pop bottle.
Never leave bleach sitting in a tea or coffee pot. Someone may be tempted to
drink from it.

    Make poisons inaccessible. Children are surprisingly good climbers and
are not deterred by strong smells and bad tastes. Although most containers are
child-resistant, none are childproof. Harmful products should be placed in a
locked box or a cupboard secured with a child safety latch.

    Never leave a poison unattended. If you are using a cleaning product and
are called away by the telephone or doorbell, take the cleaning product with
you. It only takes a second for a child to swallow chemicals. Even those
products that are used on a daily basis, such as toothpaste, vitamins and
prescription medications, should be returned to a locked cupboard or box
immediately after use. Never leave a purse containing perfumes, cosmetics or
lotions in an accessible place.

    Do not throw medications and chemicals in the garbage. Not only are they
bad for the environment, but if placed in the garbage they can become
accessible to children. Return expired medications to your local pharmacy and
chemicals such as antifreeze and paint to your local hazardous waste depot
where they can be disposed of properly.

    Store chemicals away from foods. It is easy to mistake cleaning spray for
cooking spray when in a hurry.

    Never mix chemicals or cleaning products. The combination can produce
toxic fumes.

    Always clean up immediately after a party. Even small amounts of alcohol
and cigarette butts can cause serious harm to a child.

    What to do in the event of poisoning:

    -   If a person ingests a possible harmful substance, give sips of water.
        If the substance is breathed in, go outside or into fresh air. If
        eyes and skin are exposed, flush with room-temperature water for 15
    -   Do not induce vomiting. This can lead to serious throat trauma.
    -   Call the Ontario Poison Centre immediately after a poisoning. The
        centre, which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, can be called
        toll-free from anywhere in Ontario at 1-800-268-9017.

    If the person is not responding to you, shaking or having trouble
breathing or swallowing, call 911 immediately.

    The Ontario Poison Centre, located at The Hospital for Sick Children
(SickKids), provides expert poison advice to all of Ontario, 24 hours a day,
365 days a year. Our specialized staff provide phone consultations in the
event of a real or potential poisoning, offer support to health-care
professionals, educate the public in poison prevention and research best
practice for the treatment of poisoning. For more information, call
1-800-268-9017 / 416-813-5900 or visit www.sickkids.ca/ontariopoisoncentre.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview with an expert from
the Ontario Poison Centre, please contact: Lisa Lipkin, Public Affairs The
Hospital for Sick Children, (416) 813-6380

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