Parachute took part in National Poison Prevention Week, from March 21 to 27 in 2021, to raise awareness about preventing unintentional poisoning.

This annual national poison awareness campaign draws attention to the causes of poisoning and how to prevent them from occurring. In 2021, we promoted the theme, #CheckForPoisons.

Each year, 4,000 Canadians lose their lives due to poisoning and annual unintentional poisoning deaths have now surpassed transport-related deaths in Canada. With many potential poisons, such as household cleaners, medications and cannabis products in Canadian homes, it is important to know how to safely store them.

Know what can cause unintentional poisoning

Medications, cleaners, personal care products, car supplies, pesticides and even some plants can be poisonous if ingested or used incorrectly. Several new poisoning issues have also emerged in recent years of which parents and caregivers should be aware.

Cannabis

  • Cannabis edibles often resemble common snacks (e.g., brownies, gummy candies). A young child may be unable to tell the difference.
  • Cannabis edibles can have a stronger effect on the body than other forms of cannabis. Ingesting cannabis is the most common cause of cannabis poisoning in children.

E-Cigarettes

  • Liquid nicotine refills for e-cigarettes are sold in flavours that may be appealing to children. Nicotine can be harmful to a child if they put it in their mouth, swallow it or spill it on their skin.

Hand sanitizers and bleach

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has increased focus on hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting. The number of calls to poison centres regarding hand sanitizers, bleachers and disinfectants grew significantly in 2020, compared to 2019.

Laundry detergent pods

  • Colourful, transparent laundry detergent pods may look like candies or toys to children. Laundry detergent pods can harm a child if ingested, or if the liquid gets into their eyes.

Know how to store poisons safely and prevent unintentional poisoning

  • Keep all potential poisons locked up high, out of sight and out of reach of children.
  • Keep products in their original, child-resistant packaging. Child-resistant packaging has been shown to reduce poisoning injuries and deaths.
  • Keep medications, cleaners and other products in their original, labelled packaging to ensure you have instructions for use, avoid mix-ups and have information about the contents should you need to call a poison centre.
  • Avoid mixing different cleaning products together. Mixing can cause chemical reactions that produce dangerous gases.
  • Avoid using cannabis products and e-cigarettes in front of children. Children often want to do the same things their parents and caregivers do.

Only 40 per cent of Canadian parents report knowing about local poison resources. Remember to keep your local poison centre phone number stored in your cellphone or in a visible location, such as on your fridge. 

If unintentional poisoning occurs, contact your local poison centre. In case of loss of consciousness or difficulty breathing, call 911.

This program is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada; the views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

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