The Cook County Health and the Cook County Department of Environmental Control are encouraging people to poison-proof their homes in recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, March 20-26.

Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related death in the U.S., surpassing motor vehicle accidents. While poisonings can happen at work, school, outdoors, and anywhere else, 91 percent occur at home.

“We treat hundreds of poisonings each year across our health system. The most serious cases often involve children who have ingested medications they shouldn’t have. I urge parents and caregivers to ensure that medication is kept out of sight and reach of children and to safely dispose of any medications you are no longer using,” said Dr. Steve Aks, emergency medicine physician and toxicologist at CCH’ John H. Stroger Jr., Hospital.

From the garage to the bathroom to the attic, hundreds of toxic chemicals and substances are stored in our homes. Even some of the more common household items can be poisonous to children, such as laundry products, plants, and personal care products.

Here are a few simple steps to prevent harm related to poisonings in the home:
• Install and regularly check carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
• Make sure all cleaning products are stored in their original containers. Store these containers up high and out of reach of children.
• Keep medicines in their original containers, properly labeled, and store them appropriately.
• Be aware of where the button batteries are in your home (remote controls, key fobs, watches, etc.) and keep these objects secure or away from children.
• Do not eat or drink while working with household chemicals or art products. Wash skin and wipe down tables and counters after contact with these substances.
• If a person ingests something potentially harmful, do not induce vomiting unless specifically directed by a health care provider.
• Save the Illinois Poison Center’s number, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone.
The Cook County Department of Environmental Control urges all residents to be aware that other harmful substances that can be found in homes.

“That includes radon gas, a naturally occurring substance in soils that is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking,” Deborah Stone, Director of the Cook County Department of Environmental Control, said. “Reduced-price home radon test kits can be obtained from the Cook County Department of Environmental Control.”

Residents can call (708) 865-6177 to obtain a reduced-price kit.

For more information about National Poison Prevention Week, visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers at