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March 17-23, 2013 is National Poison Prevention Week!

Last year, America’s 57 poison centers received about 4 million calls. Of those, about 2.4 million were calls about poison exposures ranging from carbon monoxide to snake bites to food poisoning.

The rest were calls for information. These prevention tips can help you or your loved ones avoid poisonings.

Poison centers aren’t just for parents whose children get into the cleaning cabinet. You can use a poison center if you’re concerned you’ve taken the wrong medicine or the right medicine in the wrong dose. You can call a poison center if you’re concerned about a household product you’ve inhaled, or if a seemingly normal substance causes a bad reaction.

Poison centers are ideal in an emergency or just when you’re a little worried. Best of all, they’re free, confidential and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

Here are a few tips on keeping yourself safe:
Medicine

  • Read and follow the directions and warnings on the label before taking any medicine, each time you take it. If you have any questions about how to take your medicine, contact your doctor, pharmacist, or poison center.
  • Some medicines just don’t play well with others! They can be dangerous, or not work as well if they are taken with alcohol, other drugs, or certain foods and drinks. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what you should be aware of when you take medicine.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about everything you are taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal remedies.
  • Turn lights on to take medicines so that you can be sure of what you’re taking.
  • Get rid of old and outdated medicines as soon as you don’t need them anymore. Some medications can become dangerous or ineffective over time. Other medicines can be abused by someone looking through your medicine stock.
  • Never share prescription medicines. Medicines should be taken by the person for whom it was prescribed and for the reason prescribed.
  • If you have a poisoning emergency call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Household and Chemical Products

  • Keep potential poisons in their original containers.
  • DO NOT use food containers such as cups or bottles to store household and chemical products.
  • Store food and household chemical products in separate areas. Mistaking one for the other could cause a serious poisoning.
  • Read and follow the directions and caution labels on household chemical products before using them.
  • Never mix household chemical products together. Mixing chemicals could cause a poisonous gas.
  • Turn on fans and open windows when using household chemical products.
  • When spraying household chemical products, make sure the spray nozzle is directed away from your face and other people.
  • Wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, shoes and gloves, when spraying pesticides and other chemicals. Pesticides can be absorbed through the skin and can be extremely poisonous.
  • Stay away from areas that have recently been sprayed.
  • Don’t sniff chemical containers if you don’t know what is inside.
  • Discard old or outdated household chemical products. First aid instructions on product containers may be incorrect or outdated.

Keep the Poison Help number– 1-800-222-1222– on or near home phones and programmed into cell phones.

For more tips and information, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

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