Every eight seconds someone needs poison control services. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the second-leading cause of injury death is unintentional poisoning. More than one million child poisonings are reported each year. The most severe and fatal poisonings occur in teens and adults.
Every 30 seconds, a child in the U.S. is poisoned. The most common products involved in poisoning include cosmetics, personal-care products, drugs, cleaning agents and plants.
The National Poison Prevention Week was instituted by Congress to promote awareness of poisoning and prevent poison incidents. The 50th anniversary of NPPW started Sunday.
“Poison Prevention Week is a worthwhile cause because parents can educate their kids and friends and families about avoiding poisonous products,” said Jordan Kerr, a student from Maple Valley, Wash., majoring in accounting. “When I was 5 years old, I drank one half a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Afterward I found out I could have gone blind.”
“Students need to know the words of the Swiss Dr. Paracelus who said, ‘dose makes the poison,’” said Steven Thygerson, Public Health Faculty member. “Everything can be poisonous, even water.” Thygerson said overdosing on medications can be dangerous if caution is not used.
The Utah Poison Control Center is a 24-hour resource that has responded to more than 1 million calls. The center has effectively managed 78 percent of poison exposures over the phone.
“95 percent of poisons can be handled at the home,” said public health major Jacob Pete, from Fresno, Calif.
“When students call poison control centers, they are talking to toxicologists and pharmacologists — their number is extremely important,” Thygerson said. “They have more and better information than hospitals.”
NPPW recommends, if poison is in the eyes or skin, flushing with lukewarm water and remove any clothing touched with the poison. If poison is inhaled, get to fresh air immediately; open doors and windows as wide as possible. If the poison was ingested and the victim is conscious, have them drink a glass of water. Do not induce vomiting. Call your poison center as soon as possible: 1-800-222-1222.
Poisons range from medications taken incorrectly to chemicals, home products, fumes and gases. The best ways to prevent poisoning is to always use medications as directed by the doctor, keep home products and medicines out of reach of children, maintain a working and charged carbon monoxide alarm and never confuse children by calling medicine “candy.”
The poison center can help if the following information is ready: how the victim feels, the age and weight of the victim, a description of poison, the amount of poison taken, time of poisoning, your name and your phone number.