1. Q. What is National Poison Prevention Week?
A. Public Law 87-319 authorizes the President to designate annually the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. This act of Congress was signed into law on September 16, 1961, by President Kennedy, after which the Poison Prevention Week Council was organized to coordinate this annual event. Congress intended this event as a means for local communities to raise awareness of the dangers of unintentional poisonings and to take such preventive measures as the dangers warrant.
2. Q. Is there a special theme for National Poison Prevention Week?
A. Yes, our basic theme is “Children Act Fast…So Do Poisons!” This means that parents must always be watchful when household chemicals or drugs are being used. Many incidents happen when adults are using a product but are distracted (for example, by the telephone or the doorbell) for a few moments. Children act fast, and adults must make sure that household chemicals and medicines are stored away from children at all times.
3. Q. If my child eats or drinks a substance that might be a poison, where can I find information on treatment?
A. If you think someone has been poisoned from a medicine or household chemical, call 800-222-1222 for your Poison Control Center. This new national toll-free number works from anyplace in the U.S. 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. Keep the number on your phone. There are currently some 65 Regional Poison Control Centers in the United States that maintain information for the doctor or the public on recommended treatment for the ingestion of household products and medicines. They are familiar with the toxicity (how poisonous it is) of most substances found in the home or know how to find this information.
4. Q. If I find my youngster playing with a bottle of medicine or some household product, how can I tell if he or she has swallowed some and what should I do?
A. Reactions vary, depending on the product. Sometimes the child may vomit; or he or she may appear to be drowsy or sluggish. Some of the substance may remain around the child’s mouth and teeth. There may be burns around the lips or mouth from corrosive items; or you may be able to smell the product on the child’s breath. Some products cause no immediate symptoms. If a household chemical has been ingested, call the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222) or follow the first aid instructions on the label. Even if you suspect, but don’t know for sure, that your child has ingested a potentially hazardous product, call your Poison Control Center, emergency department, or doctor. Keep these telephone numbers on your phone.