This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), which will be
observed March 18–24. Each year, the observance of NPPW is organized by the Poison Prevention Week
Council, a coalition of partners working to raise awareness about poison prevention across wide-ranging
Since passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act in 1970, the child-resistant packaging required on many
medicines and toxic substances has saved hundreds of lives. However, child poisoning, particularly from
medicines, remains a public health problem. Each year, approximately 60,000 emergency department visits and
half a million calls to poison control centers are made because young children have gotten into medicines. A
CDC-led public-private partnership, Up and Away and Out of Sight
program to remind a new generation of caregivers about the importance of safe medicine storage.
NPPW also serves to focus attention on the substantial increase in the number of poisoning deaths among
youths and adults during the past decade. In 2008, poisoning became the leading cause of injury-related death
in the United States. Nearly 90% of poisoning deaths involved drugs, and approximately half of those involved
prescription medications. Of the prescription medication overdose deaths, 74% involved opioid analgesics.
NPPW provides a reminder of the many opportunities available for reversing these trends.
Medicine Safety Tips
1. Ask babysitters, visitors, and house guests to keep purses, briefcases or bags that contain medicines up
high, away and out of sight from your children. The same rule applies when your children are visiting a friend or
2. Buy products in child-resistant packaging whenever possible. But remember, child-resistant is not childproof,
and is designed to keep children away from the product for a short time before a parent notices.
3. Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after use.
4. If you think someone has been poisoned, call 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center. This national
toll-free number works anywhere in the U.S. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
5. Keep the poison center toll-free number near your phone, or program 1-800-222-1222 into your home and
6. Read medicine and product labels before each use and follow directions exactly.
7. Tell children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them.
8. Never call medicine “candy” to get a child to take it.
9. Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside.