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 55th 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 and ready to assist you.
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 all the poison centers in the US. And according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), approximately 90 percent of these poisonings are happening at home with 51 percent of them involving children under the age of six.
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 3 minutes or less.
- Calling 1-800-222-1222 from anywhere in the United States will connect you to your 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 fuel burning appliances 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.
In the event that you or someone with you has been potentially poisoned, always remember to first remain calm. Then immediately call the toll-free Poison Help line right away at 1-800-222-1222. Follow all the instructions you are given by the poison control specialist. Many times, the poison control specialist will call back to make sure that things are ok and there is no need for further assistance. For more information on accidental poisonings and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones, please visit the Texas Poison Center Network website at www.poisoncontrol.org.
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