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Mar 17, 2014

March 17th, 2014

Poison Prevention Week (March 17 - 22) 

Pittsburgh, PA - More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to more than 57 poison control centers in the US.  Over 90% of these poisonings happen in the home.  National Poison Prevention Week, which was established in 1961, is March 16-22, 2014.  It is important to raise awareness of preventing poisoning not only from medications but also from many other common household products and invisible gases like carbon monoxide.

There are many ways to prevent poisoning from medications:

  • Proper medication use can reduce the amount of old medications remaining around the house.  Taking the medications as they are prescribed, and not forgetting to take them can help.
  • Knowing the signs and symptoms of side effects from medication overdose.  Ask your pharmacist or doctor about the information.
  • Proper medication storage can prevent medications from going bad.  Most of the medications can be stored at room temperature.  Do not store your medications in moist areas, including bathroom cabinets.
  • Proper medication disposal can reduce potential poisoning in children and pets.  Medications can be ground down and mixed with either kitty litter or coffee grounds.  You can put the mixture into a container or an envelope and throw away in the trash.
  • National Drug Take-Back Day is April 26, 2014.  Locations will be announced on April 1st and you can take any of your old medications, even if you do not know what it is.
  • When you suspect poisoning from anything, call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Pharmacists have promoted poison prevention with many different programs. Stanton Jonas, a retired pharmacist in the Pittsburgh area, has been actively raising awareness of poison prevention in Allegheny County since the 1960s.  He works together with students from the Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy and people from other organizations to raise the awareness of poison prevention in children.  He also has been working with Highmark, local fire departments, and the city police departments to install carbon monoxide detectors for homes.  

In 2012, 35% of the calls to the poison prevention center are due to poisoning in children age less than 3 years old.[a]  49% of the phone calls are for children age less than 6 years old.  Mr. Jonas expresses that everyone is now more aware of accidental poisoning, however, it is important to continue increasing the awareness about poison prevention to kids in K-12.  Mr. Jonas recommends talking to children about invisible gases such as smoke, and poisonous liquids such as detergent which children shouldn’t drink in order to reduce accidental poisoning.[b][c]

To learn more about how you can prevent poisonings in your home, talk with your pharmacist about medication safety or visit