The number of people who die each year from accidental poisoning is staggering, but by getting information out, we can eliminate many poisonings and save lives. This week marks the 50th anniversary of Poison Prevention Week and is an important time to become better informed about how to keep yourself and your family safe from unintentional poisoning.
A poison is considered as any substance, including medications, which can be harmful to your body if too much is ingested, inhaled, injected or absorbed through the skin. An accidental poisoning occurs when a person unintentionally takes too much of a substance and does not mean to cause harm.More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the Nation’s poison centers. And according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, approximately 90 percent of poisonings happen at home, and 51 percent of them involve children under the age of six.
Poisons are all around us and can affect anyone. Learn how to protect yourself and others by learning how to prevent a poison from happening.How to Prevent Poisonings
- Only take prescription medications that are prescribed to you by a healthcare professional. By misusing or abusing prescriptions, you put your health at risk and could unintentionally get poisoned.
- Always take the correct dosage of a medication prescribed to you. Never take more than the recommended amount.
- Follow the directions on prescription medications and be aware of all the warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken safely if mixed with other substances such as alcohol.
- Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure different medications prescribed to you do not interact in a harmful way.
- Always monitor the use of medicines prescribed to a child or teenager so that the correct dosage is always taken.
- Never describe medicine to children as candy in order to get them to take it. If they think it is candy and get a hold of it, it could lead to an overdose and serious consequences.
- Dispose of unused or unwanted medications. There is no need to have extra medication floating around the house that someone could accidently get into and take without your knowledge.
- Store all medications and household products out of reach of children. Keep medications in a secure location.
- Make sure to keep medications in their original containers so no one accidently takes the wrong medication.What to Do if a Poisoning Occurs
In the event that you or someone with you has been poisoned, first remain calm. Then, immediately dial 9-1-1 if the person has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, call the toll-free Poison Help line right away, 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to your local poison center. Make sure to have the following information handy:
- victim’s height and weight
- the container or bottle that provides what the victim was poisoned with
- when the poisoning occurred
- the location of the poisoningStay on the phone with the poison control specialist or 9-1-1 operator and follow all the instructions you are given. For more information on accidental poisonings and what you can do to protect yourself and loved ones, visit www.poisonprevention.org.
Texas Poison Control Network: http://www.poisoncontrol.org/