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Upstate New York Poison Center celebrates National Poison Prevention Week

The Upstate New York Poison Center joins poison centers around the country in celebrating National Poison Prevention Week March 17 to 23.

Since 1962, the president of the United States has proclaimed the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week to raise awareness about the dangers of poisoning and how to prevent them.

“The Upstate New York 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,” said Gail Banach, director of Public Education and Communications. “Our 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." Although the number of calls to our poison center from emergency departments continues to rise, the majority of calls come from the home setting about children under the age of 5. This year’s observance will focus on medication safety practices. “Prevention is the best possible medicine,” said Banach.

The Upstate New York Poison Center will kick off the week with a new pilot program partnering with seven Head Starts within the Center’s 54 county coverage area, underwritten in part by Kinney Drugs, Inc. (Herkimer, Tompkins, Jefferson, Chautauqua, Wyoming, St. Lawrence and Clinton Counties). Head Start teachers will conduct a poison safety lesson for students with a special take-home packet including brochures focusing on safe medication dosing and a medicine spoon to encourage safe dosing. Parents and teachers will have an opportunity to provide survey feedback. “We hope to encourage parents to use a medicine spoon to measure medication instead of kitchen teaspoons and tablespoons, which do not measure a standard dose,” said Banach. “Hopefully survey data will support continued funding of this important project."

“We have plans to implement another safe medicine project through the pediatric emergency services of Upstate University Hospital at both campuses distributing 10,000 medicine spoons to families visiting the emergency care sites in the near future,” Banach said

“If a poisoning does occur, it’s good to know help is just a phone call away,” said Banach. “Program your cell phone with the Poison Control number 1-800-222-1222 and post it near your home phone."

In 2011, U.S. poison centers answered more than 3.6 million calls, including about 2.3 million calls about human exposures to poisons, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The Upstate New York Poison Center managed close to 80,000 calls from a population of 7.3 million.