This week is National Poison Prevention week, take note

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 20, 2019

This week, March 17th – 23rd is recognized as National Poison Prevention Week. It is the perfect time to raise awareness among families to reduce unintentional poisonings, and promote poison prevention in our corner of the world.   

We believe poisonings can be prevented 24-7, 365 days a year. Shockingly, 90 percent of all poisonings occur in the home, which is the one environment you’d think people had the most control over. Please, be sure to keep all products in their original, labeled containers and read those labels prior to use.

The main goal this week is to create awareness about the risk of injury or death due to poisoning. The Environmental Protection Agency reports in the past year, America’s 57 poison control centers fielded 4 million calls, treating 2.4 million human poison exposures and handling 1.6 million calls. Parents and caregivers are urged to be vigilant and take steps now to prevent unnecessary exposures and poisonings throughout the year. When accidents happen with chemicals, medicine, or household items, call the number listed on the product label or call the Poison Help Center’s toll-free hotline at 800-222-1222. They have offices located throughout the United States and are there to assist you through your crisis. If someone is unconscious or has trouble breathing, call 911.

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A poisoning is when someone swallows, breathes, touches or gets splashed in the eye with a substance that can cause sickness or death. Yet not all of these substances are in and of themselves poisonous. An adult may take an aspirin to ease some pain, but when a two-year-old ingests a handful of pills thinking they’re candy, it can result in much more than a headache.

Precaution Steps:

Families are encouraged to take precautions and safeguard against poisoning. Some steps to take are:

• Be prepared for an emergency. Keep the national, free Poison Helpline number at your fingertips by saving the number in your mobile phone: 1-800-222-1222. Text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your smartphone.

• Practice safe storage habits. Always store medicines and hazardous substances up, away, and out of sight of children. Little children love to climb; and will try to get what they want. Keep these substances in their original, child resistant containers.

• Read and follow all labels and directions. Review medicine and product labels before you use them, especially before giving medicine to children.

• Detect invisible threats. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

• Never use empty cleaning-product containers to store food, and, likewise, NEVER use baby bottles, sippy cups or empty bottles to store detergents or cleansers.

• Never refer to medicine as candy to children.

• Women keep your purses closed and out of reach of young children

• If the phone or doorbell rings when you’re in the middle of using a product, close the bottle or box and take the product with you to the door (especially if you have small children around you). Many incidents happen when adults are distracted. Remember little children move fast

• Wash hands thoroughly after using a product, and, likewise, wash any utensils that may have been used to measure or dispense a product.

• Turn on fans or open windows when using household and chemical products for proper ventilation.

• NEVER combine cleaning agents with ammonia. Some chemical mixtures can create deadly fumes.

• Use the safest possible cleaning products.  Look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) label on products.

The Escambia County Extension Office has a program called “Dangerous-Look-Alikes.”  It’s an awareness program we would like to present to your school, civic club or church organizations.  We show common “Look-A-Likes” that are packaged similarly and teach how to give the products “respect” in handling them safety.  (Examples: red hot candy pieces and red allergy medicine; tooth paste and Arthritis medicine; mouth wash and hand soap; animal crackers and people crackers for dogs) and more. These all are about the same color, packaged similarly and are potentially dangerous to a young child or to an elderly person not wearing their glasses.   

If you are interested in getting more information on this program for your school, after-school, civic club, church group call 251-867-7760. Remember, awareness and prevention is the best way to decrease poisoning in all ages.

In case of an accidental poisoning or emergency, call the number listed on the product label  or call the U.S. Poison Control Center’s toll-free hotline at 800-222-1222. This particular number works no matter what part of the country you are in when you have an emergency.  I used it once when I had a family emergency. They stayed on the line with me until the emergency was resolved.