Early 20th century, very little was known about poisons. No poison control centers existed, comprehensive drug labeling, or oversight of pharmaceutical manufacturing. As a result, the understanding of deaths and health problems associated with toxicology was not understood. But as medical science improved, so did the knowledge about poisons.

The first formal poison control center was developed in 1953 by Edward Press, M.D., and Louis Gdalman. It was in Chicago and it gave people the opportunity to call in for medical advice and collected standard data. They quickly grew after the first one and by 1978 there were 661 centers. On September 26, 1961, US Congress passed a joint resolution that requested the President proclaim the third week of March National Poison Prevention Week, and JFK proclaimed it to be so.

It is critical to change the mindset surrounding poisons. Learn what items in your house could be potentially toxic and how to best handle them. Everything from medicines to charcoal lighter and insect sprays can have devastating effects if they are not handled properly.

If you have children, or if children spend time at your house, make sure that they know about poison safety. Children are the major victims of poisoning. Children can get into products with dangerous chemicals and it is important that they are informed of the proper information. Take preventative measures to ensure that your house is safe by child-locking cabinets that have chemicals and medicine.

Since animals don’t have the ability to communicate with us, learn the poisoning symptoms that you need to look out for. Breathing irregularities and sickness, diarrhea, agitation, and heart issues are all possible signs that could require intervention. You know your pets better than anyone, and if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call Animal Poison Control (APC) at (888) 426-4435.

FOUR FACTS

Deaths per day-87 people die every day from unintentional poisoning.

Everything is poisonous-almost anything can be poisonous if too much of it is ingested.

The victims-children are the major victims of poisoning

Teen danger-teens have a high risk of death when using household products to get “high”.

WHY POISON PREVENTION AWARENESS MONTH IS IMPORTANT

It’s easy to forget — when we use household items, the last thing on our minds is that they could be potentially dangerous. Poison Prevention Awareness Month draws attention to the fact that this carelessness could have disastrous repercussions.

Children — it’s one thing for adults to be forgetful, but the most at-risk people are children. This month forces us on thinking more broadly and to take preventative measures to make sure our children are safe.

New information-medical science is constantly learning more about poisons and the best way to prevent them. It’s the perfect time to brush up not only on the standard facts, but to identify any new information that has been discovered to better guard against poisonings.

National Poison Control Center

Twin County Recovery Services Inc. helps alleviate the devastating effects of substance use disorder in the communities of Columbia and Greene Counties. For more information on our services and supports, please visit: www.twincountyrecoveryservices.org or call: 518-751-2083

Kimberly Haley is a Prevention Counselor at Twin County Recovery Services Inc. which is a private, not for profit organization incorporated in 1974 and a NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services agency.

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