Poison Prevention Awareness Month takes place every March. While it began in 1961 with a Presidential proclamation for a March National Poison Prevention Week, it has now grown to include the entire month of March, and even extends to include Poison Prevention Awareness for pets. This year’s campaign is entitled: Prepare. Prevent. Protect.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Poisoning is injury or death due to swallowing, inhaling, touching or injecting various drugs, chemicals, venoms or gases.” What that means is that poisonings can occur due to medicines (including Over the Counter medications), household chemicals, garden products, and other substances. The Health Resources and Services Administration has found that more than 90% of poisonings occur in people’s homes, with 45 percent of those instances involving children under the age of six.
According to WA Poison Center, here are some ways to prevent poisonings:
Read and follow directions on the labels.
Re-read the label each time before you take or give medications. Establish a medication routine.
Keep medications, household cleaners and garden products locked up, or stored out of reach of children. Separate those items from food items.
Use child-resistant containers.
Store products and medicines in their original containers.
Use Mr. Yuk stickers to help children identify substances to avoid.
Dispose of expired or unwanted medicines properly; consider mail-back and take-back events.
When to call 9-1-1
Call 9-1-1 if the person is:
Drowsy or unconscious
Having difficulty breathing or has stopped breathing
Uncontrollably restless or agitated
Known to have taken medications, or other substance, intentionally or accidentally
When to call the Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222
More than 6,000 people call poison centers each day in the US. If you are unsure, call the Poison Center. The WA Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can get answers right away from a nurse, pharmacist, or other poison expert. Call the Poison Center if the person is:
Stable and has no symptoms
Going to be transported to an Emergency Department; you’ve already called 9-1-1
The WA Poison Center recommends taking these steps after an exposure, while waiting for help:
Inhaled Poison: Get to fresh air right away and avoid fumes. Open doors and windows wide.
Poison on the Skin: Take off clothing that the poison touched. Rinse off skin with running water. Wash off with soap and water.
Poison in the Eye: Run lukewarm tap water over the eye for 20 minutes. Do not force the eyelid open.
Swallowed Poison: Do not make the person vomit, drink or eat, unless told to do so by a poison expert.