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March 18, 2003

National Poison Prevention Week is a Reminder of a New Phone Number for Poison Control

This week is National Poison Prevention Week. The Louisiana Poison Control Center at the University of Louisiana at Monroe would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to poison proof their homes to help prevent accidental poisonings.

For the first time in history a single, nation-wide poison hotline phone number may be used to reach the nearest poison center to you. The new national toll-free number for poison control centers is 1-800-222-1222.

Since March 16, 1992, ULM has housed the full-time operation of the Louisiana Drug and Poison Information Center. The American Association of Poison Control Centers, or AAPCC, Certified center is staffed by a medical director that is board-certified in emergency toxicology, licensed pharmacists and nurses that function as Specialists in Poison Information (SPI's) that handle the emergency calls coming in from across the entire state of Louisiana.

Mark Ryan, Director of the Louisiana Poison control Center at ULM said, "Our aim is to reduce the number of accidental poisonings through poison prevention education. Time is often crucial in treating the poisoned patient and the availability of a single phone number will be a valuable tool for the public. We encourage callers to use the number not only in an emergency. If you are unsure weather something might be poisonous, calling for information may prevent a poisoning exposure later. Calling the new national number from anywhere within Louisiana will connect you to the Poison Control Center at ULM. We know this will be a great asset to the state."

Each year there are approximately 30 deaths and nearly 1 million incidents in which children less than 5 years of age are exposed to potential poisons. At a news conference recently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and the Poison Prevention Week Council urged parents to use products with child-resistant packaging; keep medicines and chemicals locked up and away from children; and when needed call the new national toll-free number for poison control centers: 1-800-222-1222 if a possible poisoning occurs.
"We know that child-resistant packaging saves lives, and we encourage all adults to use it," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "But this special packaging is child-resistant, not child-proof, so you also need to keep medicines and chemicals locked up."
The goal of National Poison Prevention Week, this year held March 16-22, is to help reduce the annual toll of poisonings to children under 5 years old. The nation's poison control centers receive more than one million calls each year about unintentional poisonings of children under 5 years of age from medicines and household chemicals.
Douglas Borys, a pharmacist, Director of the Central Texas Poison Center and President of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, emphasizes the importance of the new toll-free number for poison control centers. "In the first year of use, the new national number for poison centers has received almost one million calls. If you need poison help, call 1-800-222-1222 immediately."
The CPSC requires child-resistance packaging for 30 categories of medicines and household chemicals. "For aspirin and oral prescription medicine, special packaging has saved the lives of more than 900 children since the early 1970s," Stratton said.

Here are the basic poison prevention tips that every person should check during National Poison Prevention Week:

1. Keep all chemicals and medicines locked up and out of sight.

2. Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container securely after each use
or choosing child-resistant blister cards, which do not need to be re-secured.

3. Call 800-222-1222 immediately in case of poisoning. Keep on hand a bottle of ipecac syrup but use it only if the poison center instructs you to induce vomiting.

4. When products are in use, never let young children out of your sight, even if you must take them along when answering the phone or doorbell.

5. Keep items in original containers.

6. Leave the original labels on all products, and read the label before using.

7. Do not put decorative lamps and candles that contain lamp oil where children can reach them. Lamp oil can be very toxic if ingested by young children.

8. Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine. Check the dosage every time.

9. Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer t medicines as "medicines," not "candy."

Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicines.

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