Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
The dangers of poison exposure exist even in your own home. Cosmetics, medicines, and other household items could lead to a serious poisoning if accidently consumed by children. The same danger potentially applies to an ointment that is intended to be used externally and is accidently ingested.
National Poison Prevention Week was established by the U.S. Congress in 1961 and occurs each year during the third week of March. The goal of this week is prevention of poisoning and education of the population about the potential dangers of poisoning.
Each year in the U.S., there are over 2 million poisonings reported. The home environment is the primary location of most poisonings, with over 90% of reported poisonings occurring at home. Most non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than 6 years of age.
Different types of poison exposures include:
- Cleaning substances
- Pain relievers
- Cosmetic, personal care products
- Foreign bodies
- Cough and cold preparations
- Bites and stings
- Insecticides and pesticides
- Topical medicines
- Food products and poisoning
- Poisonous plants
- Carbon monoxide
- Lead poisoning
For poison emergencies of any type in the U.S., call the poison prevention helpline at 1-800-222-1222 at any time. If the victim is unconscious or not breathing, activate emergency medical services by calling 911.
The poison prevention helpline was developed by the American Association of Poison Control Centers to provide free, expert medical advice on poisoning exposures 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The American Association of Poison Control Centers represent the 60 individual poison control centers located throughout the U.S.
To learn more, visit the following MedicineNet.com articles:
- Practice Poison Prevention and Live Longer
- Household Items: A Danger to Young Children
- Poison Control Centers to look up the poison control center in your area.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Tips to Prevent Poisonings." Mar. 18, 2008. <http://www.cdc.gov/NCIPC/factsheets/poisonprevention.htm>.
American Association of Poison Control Centers. "Poison Prevention Week Tip of the Day." <http://www.aapcc.org/DNN/>.