This week, March 17th-23rd, marks the celebration of National Poison Prevention Week 2019. In 1961, the United States designated the third full week of March as National Poison Prevention Week, a week dedicated to highlighting the dangers of poisonings. This year marks the 57th year and acts as a reminder that poisonings are the leading cause of injury related death in the United States. While injuries can cause harm, many are preventable. And for those injuries that aren’t prevented, a poison expert is only a phone call away and ready to assist you.
In 2017, poison centers in the US received approximately 2.6 million cases via telephone. That’s one poison exposure call every 12 seconds! But not all the statistics involving poisons are bad. In fact, poison centers save Americans more than $1.8 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity. That is amazing and an incredible attribute to all the hard work the poison centers do to help save lives and cut down visits to the emergency room.
Poison centers are also a fantastic help when it comes to major public health emergencies and epidemics. Since 2011, the centers have handled 500,000 calls of opioid misuse and abuse as well as calls of concern regarding measles diagnoses. Other major issues poison centers have assisted with recently include liquid laundry packets, synthetic cannabinoids, and e-cigarettes.
Not only do centers assist people with their poison emergencies, but they also assist first responders and hospital personnel. And on top of that, they identify emerging drugs of abuse and provide countless hours of educational outreach.
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 without wanting to cause themselves harm.
Poisonings are more common than you might think. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), approximately 93 percent of these poisonings are happening at home, with 45%of them involving children under the age of six.
Here are some tips to keep your family safe:
- In children ages six and younger, the most common exposures are to medicines, personal care 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 regional 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 often mistake pills for yummy candy.
- Get fuel burning appliances checked yearly and make sure working carbon monoxide detectors are installed in your home and checked twice a year. This is especially important for the winter months.
What to Do in the Event of an Accidental Poisoning
If you or someone else has been potentially poisoned, always remember to first remain calm. Then immediately call the toll-free Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Follow all instructions given to you by the poison specialist. Often, the poison specialist will call you back to make sure that things are going okay. 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.
Below is the Texas Governor Proclamation on Poison Prevention Week: