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Raising poison awareness

March 31, 2012
The Inter-Mountain


In 1962, the president of the United States proclaimed the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week to raise awareness about the dangers of poisonings.

The West Virginia Poison Center and America's other 56 poison centers are committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of every American through poison prevention and free, confidential, expert medical services. The West Virginia Poison center responds to calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to help those who have been exposed to toxic substances.

In 2010, United States poison centers answered more than 3.9 million calls. About 71 percent of the people who called with poison emergencies were treated at home following the advice of poison center experts, saving millions of dollars in medical expenses.

Consider this: The telephone rings while you are cleaning the kitchen counters. You leave your 3-year-old playing in the floor while you grab the phone. When you return a few seconds later, your child is playing in a pool of cleaner. What do you do?

Situations like this happen to families all across America. Questions about possible poisonings in children are the most common calls received at the Poison Center. Although scary, many children do not need to visit the emergency room after an exposure. However, you should never assume that this will be the case for your child. A call to the West Virginia Poison Center (WVPC) can set your mind at ease and get you the answers you need. Do not wait for symptoms to appear.

Here are a few tips from the WVPC to help protect your child from accidental poisonings:

Keep medicines and household products out of children's reach, preferably locked up.

Remember, child-resistant packaging does not mean child-proof.

Teach children about the dangers of poisonings and remind them to ask adults before touching unknown items.

Poisons and edible items may look alike to children. Teach children to always ask before eating something.

Do not leave medicine or cleaning products unattended, even if just for a moment.

If you suspect a child may have been poisoned, immediately call the WVPC at 1-800-222-1222. A trained health care professional will answer your call.

The West Virginia Poison Center provides comprehensive emergency poison information, prevention and educational resources to West Virginians 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The WVPC is staffed by nurses, pharmacists and physicians with special training in treatment of poisonings. Located in Charleston, the WVPC is a part of the West Virginia University-Charleston Division.

Carissa McBurney

Community Outreach Coordinator

West Virginia Poison Center




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