Children are targets of message about dangers of poisoning

March 25, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

National Poison Prevention week ends tomorrow, and officials with the Columbia Medical Plan and the Maryland Poison Center hope this week's efforts to increase awareness of accidental poisonings have delivered a lasting message.

The goal "is to make parents and children aware of poison prevention," said Dr. Joseph Sokol, director of the Twin Knolls Pharmacy for Columbia Medical Plan, a health maintenance organization based in Columbia.

Throughout the week, the health maintenance organization and the Maryland Poison Center have been reminding people about the dangers of poisoning by sponsoring a poster contest and distributing "Mr. Yuk" stickers, which display a frowning face warning children to stay away from poisonous products.

The poster contest was held in Howard and Anne Arundel counties. The winners were Kelly Garner, a fifth-grader at Bollman Bridge Elementary in Jessup, and Jontae Powell, a first-grader at Van Bokkelen Elementary School in Severn.

Kelly's poster shows a bottle decorated with "Mr. Yuk" stickers and the phrase: "Poison, it can take your life."

The 10-year-old said National Poison Prevention Week is important because "it teaches children to stay away from poisons."

About 25,000 children are poisoned in Maryland each year, Dr. Sokol said. Most poison victims are children under age 6 who mistake furniture polish, cleaning solvents and other household products for edible items.

Anti-freeze, for example, may look like a tasty beverage and motor oil like maple syrup, Dr. Sokol said.

Dr. Sokol said that accidental poisonings can be prevented by following these tips:

* Read and follow label directions before using drugs and household products.

* Store all poisonous products in locked cabinets out of reach of children.

* Always ask for medication in child-resistant containers.

* Place "Mr. Yuk" stickers on poisonous products.

* Keep syrup of ipecac at home to cause vomiting where appropriate in cases of accidental poisoning.

"Mr. Yuk" stickers can be obtained from the Maryland Poison Center and from all Columbia Medical Plan locations, or by calling 706-8122.

The Maryland Poison Center can be reached at 528-7701 or at 1-800-492-24214 for emergencies.

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