Make Safe Happen: Practice ‘Up and Away’ to Avoid Child Poisoning

Children have a way of getting into everything, including household items that can be dangerous for their health and safety. Each year, poison centers answer more than 1 million calls concerning a child under the age of 5, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

March 20 – 26 is National Poison Prevention Week. To recognize this program Make Safe Happen is encouraging all caregivers to check their cabinets and make sure toxic cleaners, medicines, and other chemicals are stored locked up and away and out of sight and reach of little ones.

A recent survey from Make Safe Happen of more than 1,000 parents with children under 13 revealed that some parents may not be taking critical poison prevention measures.

  • 2 in 5 parents (43%) have kept cleaning solutions in a low, unlocked cabinet.
  • 36% of parents said they have bought a safety product (e.g., cabinet locks) but didn’t use or install it.
  • More than half of all parents (52%) do not safeguard laundry packets from children’s reach.

These numbers are concerning especially considering the many risks associated with poisoning at home. For example, over 12,500 children (34 per day) were exposed to laundry packets in 2015 (American Association of Poison Control Centers).

Overall, the Centers for Disease Control, reported over 300 children in the U.S. ages 0 to 19 are treated in emergency departments every day, and two children die as a result of being poisoned.

In addition to the familiar, traditional cleaners and medicines, there are new poisoning risks  that can be harmful to the health of your child. Some of these include hand sanitizers, laundry packets, e-cigarettes and button batteries found in greeting cards, remotes and key fobs. And, while many parents do or intend to keep at least most of their known poisons “up and away,” it’s easy to get distracted when multitasking or to inadvertently leave items within a child’s reach while cleaning.

Busy parents and caregivers can take a few simple steps to keep children safer:

1. Store items up and away: Although you may be familiar with many of the items that are poisonous, there are many more that also need to be kept out of reach. It’s best to use chemicals when kids are not around, especially if they are 5 or younger.

2. Lock and dispose properly: Keep any household cleaners or medicines in the original containers, locked out of sight and reach. Immediately dispose of old or unused chemicals and medicines. To dispose of medications yourself, remove the medication from its packaging and pour it into a sealable plastic bag. If you’re throwing out pills, add water to dissolve them. Mix in cat litter, sawdust or used coffee grounds and toss it in the garbage. Don’t put prescription medications in the sink or toilet unless you’re specifically instructed to.

Poison prevention

3. Be prepared: If you suspect or know that a child has ingested or come into contact with any poison, call the poison help number. Take a moment to save it on your phone: 1-800-222-1222.

Join the conversation around poison prevention by using the hashtags #makesafehappen and #poisonprevention, and by taking the steps to decrease potential poisoning risks in your home.


Visit for poison prevention checklists and download the free Make Safe Happen app for room-by-room safety advice customized for the age of your children and shop for safety products. It also allows users to create to-do lists, set reminders and track progress.