Poison Prevention Week aimed at avoiding exposure

  • Published
  • By Eric T. Hoehn, Safety Office
  • 88th Air Base Wing

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- National Poison Prevention Week, the third full week in March each year, is designated to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them.

Every 15 seconds, someone calls a Poison Control Center in the United States, according to recent data. In 2019, more than 2.1 million people were exposed to some type of poison, and children under age 6 represented the vast majority of cases.

A poison exposure can occur when a person swallows, breathes, touches, or gets splashed in the eye or face with something that can cause sickness or death.

Some leading causes for poisons in children and adults are simple items found all around the house. They can include cosmetics (perfumes or nail polish), personal care (deodorants and soaps), cleaning products such as laundry detergents and floor cleaners, and all types of medication. About 90% of all poison exposures happen at home.

To help protect children against poisoning, the following tips should be considered:

  • Lock up all potentially poisonous materials out of sight and reach (makeup, medicines, cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies and alcohol).
  • Never leave children exposed to an open container of anything you would not want them to ingest.
  • Always choose medicine products that have child-resistant caps and don’t refer to medication as candy.
  • Products should always be kept in original containers with labels so you know exactly what the product is and how to find first-aid information, if needed.
  • Finally, discuss these precautions with grandparents and all caregivers. Homes without young children may not be as well childproofed as your own.

If you think someone has been exposed to a poison from medicine or household chemicals, the best thing to do is remain calm. Those items aren’t necessarily poisonous. Poisoning is a matter of dosage — too much of anything can be dangerous.

The next step is contacting a Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222, which works from anywhere in the United States. These centers are staffed by nurses, pharmacists and physicians 24/7. If you are unable to contact the center, call a local emergency number.

When contacting the Poison Control Center or first responders, be aware that in order for them to assist you correctly, they will require you to give them some facts. It’s best to have the label of whatever poison the individual was exposed to because it can provide product information and advice on immediate first aid.

You will also need to know some details about the person exposed, including age, weight, existing health conditions, any first aid rendered, if he or she has vomited, your location and how long it will take to get to a hospital.

Being prepared is the best defense. Keep poisonous products out of reach and know how to contact a Poison Control Center.

For more information, go to www.poison.org.