National Poison Prevention Week: March 17-23, 2002
Mona Tannous, B.S. Candidate, OSU and OPA Extern
National Poison Prevention Week is observed anually, and focuses on the prevention of ingestion, contact, or inhalation of poisonous substances. Celebrating its 41st year since President Kennedy signed this bill into law, the need for national awareness in preventing serious harm or fatalities from poisons has not diminished.
On January 30, 2002, Senator Mike DeWine announced a new nationwide toll-free number for accidental poisonings: 1-800-222-1222. The public can place a call from anywhere in the U.S. and be connected with their closest poison control center. Thanks to “The Poison Center Enhancement and Stabilization Act” signed by President Clinton on February 25, 2000 and the efforts of Senator DeWine, this nationwide number will help direct the approximately one million accidental poisonings phone calls made annually.
There are currently three poison control centers operating in Ohio: Central Ohio Poison Center in Columbus, 614.722.2635; Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center, 513.636.5063; Greater Cleveland Poison Control Center, 216-844.1574. These numbers may be used for information or for ordering educational materials.
As trusted healthcare professionals, pharmacists are encouraged to take advantage of their accessibility to the public in advertising this toll-free number and promoting National Poison Prevention Week.
Pharmacists can go beyond using child-resistant caps and encouraging the storage of medications out of the reach of children. Pharmacists may emphasize the importance of stocking syrup of ipecac in the household, put it on sale or give it away that week. Some pharmacies have held coloring contests for children using a poison prevention theme. Another suggestion is reminding parents to leave medications and household items in their original containers to prevent mislabeling. Educational materials may be available at the regional poison centers listed above.
The Poison Prevention Week Council publishes a list of materials including brochures, flyers, and pamphlets by other organizations detailing useful information for parents and pharmacists. The complete list can be accessed by clicking on the product link in the Council’s web-site: http://www.poisonprevention.org or by writing The Poison Prevention Week Council, PO Box 1543, Washington, D.C. 20013.
Good luck and report back to us on your successes.