Deaths from poisoning have been on the rise in the United States in the past few years, surpassing motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental injury death, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, poisoning is the leading cause of hospitalization due to accidental injury in Oregon.
National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW) was created by Congress in 1961 to raise awareness about the risk of injury or death due to poisoning. The longest continuously running health and safety campaign in the United States, NPPW is coming up from March 17 through 23, and the Oregon Poison Center (OPC) at Oregon Health & Science University wants to remind individuals and families that staying alert and keeping poisons out of reach is the key to poison prevention.
"Many poisonings happen when adults are distracted for just a few minutes, either by the telephone, the doorbell or something else," said Tonya Drayden, R.N., public education coordinator for OPC. "It only takes a few minutes for the wrong pill or medication to be given or taken. We believe poison safety is the key to poison prevention."
The Oregon Poison Center receives over 55,000 calls a year. In 2012 over half of these calls were from parents and caregivers of children under the age of five. However, adults are more likely to die from poisoning than children.
Poison safety tips:
- Post the poison center phone number (800-222-1222) in a visible place in your home. Program the number into your home and mobile phones.
- Follow directions on medicine dosing exactly. Giving or taking too much of a drug is a common mistake.
- Store all household products in their original containers.
- Don't transfer chemicals or poisons into empty food containers; someone might think it is food.
- If the phone or doorbell rings while using medicine or cleaner, cap it before you answer.
- Keep medicines and cleaners out of sight in cabinets with child-resistant latches.
- Old, expired medicines can poison children; throw them out. Contact your community’s Drug Take-Back Program for safe disposal.