When people think of poisonings, they usually think of children putting something toxic like a toilet cleaner into their mouths. What most people do not realize is that poisonings can also include mixing the wrong medications, being bitten by a poisonous snake or spider, and coming into contact with silent killers like carbon monoxide. While these can sound scary, the good news is most of them can be prevented with the right education and choices.
In 1961, the United States designated the third full week of March as National Poison Prevention Week, a week dedicated to teaching, educating and raising awareness about poisonings. This year marks the 54th year and acts as a reminder that poisonings are currently the leading cause of injury death in the country. But as with any injury, it can be preventable and a poison expert is only a phone call away.
What is considered a poison?
A poison is any substance, including medications, which can be harmful to your body if too much is ingested, inhaled, injected or absorbed through the skin. Accidental poisoning can occur when a person unintentionally takes too much of a substance and does not mean to cause harm.
Poisonings are more common than you think. Currently, more than two million poisonings are reported each year to the Nation’s poison centers. And according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, approximately 90 percent of these poisonings are happening at home with 51 percent of them involving children under the age of six.
While thoughts of an accidental poisoning can be daunting, the poison control toll-free help line is here to help when you need it the most!
Here are some poison facts and tips to remember:
- In children ages six and younger, the most common exposure is to medicines, plants, pesticides and cleaning products.
- Child-resistant packages are not childproof. Most two-year olds can open a child-resistant container in 4 to 5 minutes or less.
- Calling 1-800-222-1222 from anywhere in the United States will connect you to a local poison center.
- Keep all poisons locked up and out of reach of children.
- Never refer to medicine (prescription, vitamins or otherwise) as candy as children may mistake tiny pills for yummy candy.
- Get household furnaces checked yearly and make sure working carbon monoxide detectors are in the house and checked multiple times a year. This is especially important for the winter months.
What to Do in the Event of an Accidental Poisoning
In the event that you or someone with you has been poisoned, always remember to remain calm. Then call the toll-free Poison Help line right away at 1-800-222-1222. Stay on the phone with the poison control specialist and follow all the instructions you are given. For more information on accidental poisonings and what you can do to protect yourself and loved ones, please visit the Texas Poison Center Network website at www.poisoncontrol.org.