Did you know that poison can be found in vitamins, toys, coins, thermometers, and cosmetics? These products, and your basic over-the-counter medications and cleaning products, contain the substance—albeit at very small amounts. With so many hazards to be aware of, drawing attention to the dangers of potential poisoning is the purpose of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19 to 25. Sponsored by the National Poisoning Prevention Council (NPPC), the weeklong observations will center on the following themes:
- Monday, March 20 – Children Act Fast … So Do Poisons
- Tuesday, March 21 – Poison Centers: Saving You Time and Money
- Wednesday, March 22 – Poisonings Span a Lifetime
- Thursday, March 23 – Home Safe Home
- Friday, March 24 – Medicine Safety
Here are some reasons that poison prevention is extremely important:
- According to the Global Children’s Fund, 800,000 kids are rushed to emergency rooms in the United States each year due to accidental poisoning.
- The Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers reveals that someone in America called a poison control center every 14.5 seconds.
Says the NPPC about the campaign:
“Unintentional poisoning from a wide variety of substances and environmental hazards can happen to anyone, and represents a substantial public health burden in the U.S. The National Poisoning Prevention Council is an inclusive community comprised of representatives from the public, nonprofit, and government organizations with a shared commitment to poisoning prevention and education. The Council provides a collective voice to raise awareness among the American public about the risks, frequency, and consequences of unintentional poisoning occurrences, injuries, and fatalities.”
Follow these tips to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning:
- Don’t share prescription medicines. If you are taking more than one drug at a time, check with your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or call the toll-free American Association of Poison Control Centers’ helpline (1-800-222-1222), to find out more about possible drug interactions.
- Carbon monoxide is a form of poison. Keep a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces.
- Keep chemicals, household cleaners, medicines, and potentially poisonous substances in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children. Never mix household or chemical products together. Doing so can create a dangerous gas.
- Keep cleaning products, art products and antifreeze in their original containers. Never use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners and other chemicals or products.
- Food can become poisonous if handled carelessly. Wash hands and counters before preparing food. Use clean utensils for cooking and serving.
- Store food at the proper temperatures. Refrigerated foods should not be left out at temperatures above 40 degrees F° (5 degrees C°).
- Be sure that everyone in your family can identify poisonous mushrooms and plants. When it comes to poison ivy, remember this tip: “leaves of three, let it be.”
- Venom is a form of poison. Find out if poisonous snakes live in your area. Wear proper attire (boots, etc.) when hiking outdoors.
- Check the label on any insect repellent. Be aware that most contain DEET, which can be poisonous in large quantities.
If someone ingests poison:
- Remain calm. Not all medicines, chemicals, or household products are poisonous. Not all contact with poison results in poisoning.
- Call the Poison Help line(1-800-222-1222), which connects you to the local poison center.
- Follow the advice you receive from your poison center.
Take steps while waiting for help to arrive:
- If someone has inhaledpoison, get him or her to fresh air immediately.
- If poison has touched the skin, rinse skin with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- If poison gets in eyes, rinse them immediately with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
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