This year marks the 56th observance of National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), March 18-24th. Since 1961, individuals, organizations and institutions around the country unite during NPPW to promote poison prevention education as well as advocate for the life-saving services provided by the nation’s poison control system.
Poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in New Jersey. From youngest to oldest, everyone including their pets are at risk. “Since poisonings are preventable, it’s important to focus your attention on identifying and preventing potential hazards at home,” says Diane Calello, MD, NJ Poison Control Center Executive and Medical Director, Rutgers NJ Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Overlooking such dangers can be costly to the health and well-being of loved ones.
Poisonings happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone. Residents should have peace of mind in knowing that their poison control center can help 24/7. It is actively involved in all aspects of poisoning and public health, from prevention to treatment to education. Healthcare providers in emergency departments and hospitals also rely on poison center experts to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients as well.
The New Jersey Poison Center answers over 50,000 calls annually. Did you know the poison control center manages most exposures over the phone, requiring no hospital visit or medical costs? Are you prepared for a poisoning exposure/emergency? Do you have the Poison Help line saved in your mobile phone?
“Anything can be a poison if it’s used in the wrong way, in the wrong amount, or by the wrong person; the dose determines how toxic something is or isn’t in the body. It’s not just about medicines and chemicals/substances; foreign bodies such as coins, magnets, and batteries also cause serious life-threatening injuries and even death,” says Calello.
To prevent poisonings, the New Jersey Poison Control Center recommends the following:
• Be prepared for an emergency. Keep the national, free Poison Helpline at your fingertips by saving the number in your mobile phone: 1-800-222-1222
• Practice safe storage habits. Always store medicines, hazardous chemicals/substances and foreign bodies where children and pets cannot reach them. Keep them locked up, out of sight, reach and in their original child-resistant containers.
• Read and follow all labels and directions. Review medicine and product labels before use, especially before giving medicine to children.
• Detect invisible threats. Have a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector in your home. Check batteries two times a year during Daylight Savings. And don’t forget your smoke alarm.
You can also reach the New Jersey Poison Control Center by chat via njPIES.org or text email@example.com.