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Poison Control Centre Handles 11,000 Calls a Year About Child Poisonings

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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. Blister packs and dosettes are not child resistant and Li recommends these containers be locked up when the grandchildren are visiting.

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

Facts and Tips on Children and Poisoning:
  • BC’s Drug and Poison Information Centre receives about 25,000 phone calls each year concerning poisoning and almost half of these involve children. 
  • The top 10 categories of poisons in young children: household cleaners; pain relieving medication; cosmetics; foreign bodies; vitamins; plants; dietary supplements; skin creams.
  • Regularly gather expired and unused medications and take them to a pharmacy for proper disposal. 

Online info:
  • Visit the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre website

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. These include unintentional and purposeful poisonings, and overdoses. People can speak to trained poison information specialists 24 hours a day every day for advice and information. Call 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911.

BC Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services.

Media Contact:
  Alex Dabrowski
Communications Manager
BC Centre for Disease Control
604 707-2412 or pager: 604 871-5699

Ben Hadaway
Provincial Health Services Authority
604 675-7416  



SOURCE: Poison Control Centre Handles 11,000 Calls a Year About Child Poisonings ( )
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