John F. Kennedy’s Proclamation 3449 declared the third week of March National Poison Prevention Week, stating:
“Whereas accidental poisoning consistently takes a substantial toll of lives each year, especially among very young children… I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week beginning March 18, 1962, as National Poison Prevention Week.”
If you have any questions or someone you know may have been poisoned, call 1-800-222-1222. This number will connect you to your local poison center, which is staffed by medical experts 24 hours every day. Save it in your cell phone and post it on the fridge or near the phone.
Call 911 if someone is unconscious or having difficulty breathing.
Poisonings in the United States
Poisonings are more common than you may think. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, “poisoning is the #1 cause of injury-related death in the U.S.”
While most poisoning exposures involved medications (around 57%), other sources include household products, plants, pesticides, carbon monoxide, radon, and gas leaks.
Is your home poison safe? Learn how to keep your friends, family, and yourself safe at home with these poison prevention tips.
Prevent Poisoning at Home
Natural Gas Poisoning
We use natural gas to power our water heaters, furnaces, gas stoves, and other essentials. Like the other poisonous gases on our list, natural gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. At high levels, it can kill you.
Besides the huge risk of fire and explosion, natural gas inhalation can lead to asphyxia (when body is deprived of oxygen) and even death.
Due to the huge health and safety risks associated with natural gas, manufacturers are required to add a chemical called mercaptan to give it its signature rotten-egg smell.
So if you smell a sulfuric, rotten-egg smell, there’s a good chance you have a gas leak nearby. React accordingly. Don’t turn on or off any electrical devices or operate an open flame. Open as many windows and doors as you can while you evacuate the household. Once everyone is safely outside, call the gas company to come take a look. Don’t reenter the home until you have been given official permission to reenter.
Natural Gas Poison Prevention Tips:
- Although natural gas leaks pose a huge risk indoors, most natural gas leaks actually happen outdoors. If you notice dirt blowing up from the ground or a hissing sound or bubbling water, you may have natural gas pipeline leak. Stay vigilant and call the gas company as soon as you notice or suspect a gas leak.
- If you plan on doing any digging around the home, always call 811 (National Underground Service Alert network) before you dig.
- Always hire qualified contractors when working with natural gas piping.
- Have your natural gas pipelines inspected periodically for unsafe conditions and leaks.
- Call a qualified contractor to repair any unsafe conditions immediately.
- A professional such as an HVAC contractor can assist you in inspecting and repairing your buried natural gas lines.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Over 500 people die in the United States every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisonings (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
CO Poison Prevention Tips:
- Schedule a professional tune-up for all your fuel-burning appliances, including furnaces, fireplaces, and generators. All heating maintenance should be done in the fall before you start using your heat-producing appliances.
- Make sure flues and ventilation systems are working and unblocked.
- Never operate a car, grill, generator, or any other fuel-burning appliance in your garage or any enclosed spaces.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home and test them monthly.
- Replace CO detector batteries at least once every year.
- We recommend getting interconnected carbon monoxide alarms so when one sounds they all sound.
If you or someone you know feels the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (dizziness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, confusion):
- Evacuate the area immediately and seek fresh air.
- Make sure all household members and pets are outside.
- Call 911 and don’t reenter the home until given official permission.
Learn more about how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning here.
Service Champions cares about your comfort and safety. If your carbon monoxide detectors aren’t working or you suspect a problem with your heating system, contact us right away.
According to EPA estimates, “Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers… Overall, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.”
Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas. Similar to carbon monoxide, radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. It is created when uranium breaks down in the soil, rock, and groundwater below us. Since radon forms naturally in the ground, we are all at risk for exposure.
Radon gas enters homes and buildings through holes and pores in the soil underneath. Radon can also enter through the water supply, but normally this is only an issue if you get your water from a groundwater source, such as wells.
Since the pressure in our buildings is lower than the pressure outside, a suction effect is created, bringing radon inside via floors and walls, construction joints, cavities inside walls, and the water supply.
The only real way to know if you are breathing in too much radon is by testing your home with the right testing equipment.
How to Test Your Home for Radon:
- Buy a test kit from your local home improvement store and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- You can also order a test kit online from http://sosradon.org/ or from the National Radon Hotline at 1-800-SOS-RADON (1-800-767-7236).
- If you have radon levels above 4 pCi/L, call a qualified radon mitigation contractor to fix your home.
- Consider fixing your home if radon levels are between 2 and 4 pCi/L.
- For more information on finding a qualified radon professional, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website.
The lower your radon levels, the lower your risk of lung cancer.
General Poison Prevention Tips
Here are addition poison prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
- Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
- Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
- Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) if you spray pesticides or other chemicals.
- Make sure cleaning products are always stored in their original containers and out of reach of children.
- Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as household cleaners.
- Store all medicines and household products up and away and out of sight in a cabinet where a child cannot reach them.
- Follow directions on the label when you give or take medicines. Read all warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken safely when you take other medicines or drink alcohol.
- Be aware of any legal or illegal drugs that guests may bring into your home. Ask guests to store drugs where children cannot find them. Children can easily get into pillboxes, purses, backpacks, or coat pockets.
- Know where button batteries are in your home (watches, key fobs, remote controls) and keep them away from children.
- Install smoke and CO detectors on every level of your home and test them every 30 days. Replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Save the Poison Help number in your phone and post it near your home phone: 1-800-222-1222.
What to Do If a Poisoning Occurs
- Remain calm.
- Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
- the victim’s age and weight
- the container or bottle of the poison if available
- the time of the poison exposure
- the address where the poisoning occurred
- Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.
Follow #preventpoison and #NPPW16 on Twitter for more poison prevention tips and resources.
Additional information can be obtained by calling your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
Additional Safety Resources:
- Health Resources & Services Administration
- National Center for Healthy Housing
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Service Champions is known for trustworthy, on-time home service throughout the East Bay, South Bay, and Sacramento areas.
If you have any questions about natural gas, radon, carbon monoxide, or something completely different, don’t hesitate to contact us.