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Officials urge caution, awareness for Poison Control Week

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Daily Herald | Mar 18, 2023

Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

In this photo taken on June 9, 2009, Poison Information provider Charlene Doss answers a call at the California Poison Control Center in San Francisco.

Over 50% of calls made to the Utah Poison Control Center each year involve children under 5 years old.

Still, poisonings can happen to anyone at any age. Last year, the UPCC managed over 40,000 poisoning cases across the state, many of them involving exposure to common over-the-counter pain medication.

National Poison Prevention Week is March 19-25, a time when experts hope people will take time to even more aware of the poisons around them and take steps to prevent them from happening all year long.

“When you call the poison control center, you will be talking with a healthcare professional who will help you with your specific situation,” UPCC director Amberly Johnson said. “Just pick up the phone and call.”

Johnson said it’s tempting to search the internet for answers, but every second counts in an emergency.

“Don’t waste valuable time searching online for information that could be incorrect or even dangerous,” Johnson said. “The poison center provides free, expert and confidential medical advice anytime day or night.”

Johnson said some simple tips can help people when it comes to poison prevention and help. First, be prepared for a poison emergency by keeping the poison control phone number saved in your cell phone.

Always store medicines and hazardous products away from children and keep them in their original child-resistant containers.

Read and follow directions on all medication bottles and other products before using. Don’t forget to take unused or expired medication to a drop box location. Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home.

UPCC also cautions people about everyday household items that can be toxic if ingested. Poison control receives approximately 50 calls per year because a child has ingested a button battery. These tiny batteries come in many products including cameras, toys, watches and even greeting cards. If swallowed, they can cause serious health complications and possibly death.

Laundry detergent packets can also cause poisoning when ingested. Because they are colorful and squishy, they appeal to children. Always keep them up high and out of reach of youngsters.

“It is important for people to take steps to prevent poisonings,” Johnson said. “Making poison safety a year-round priority will go a long way in helping to decrease poison exposures.”

If you suspect a poisoning or even have a question about it, it’s quick and easy to find help by calling the Utah Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. UPCC is a 24-hour resource for poison information, prevention and education and clinical toxicology consultation.


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