March 19th-25th marks the observance of National Poison Prevention Week. Established in 1961 by Congress and sponsored by the National Poison Prevention Week council, the purpose of this week is to raise awareness regarding poison prevention to help reduce the number of unintentional poisonings that take place. According to the National Safety Council, there were approximately 87,404 preventable deaths caused by poisoning in 2020. Given that there are a multitude of ways in which accidental poisoning can occur, this week we’re sharing a few tips to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
1. Know what substances pose the greatest risk for poisoning
According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, more than 90% of poisonings happen in homes. The most likely places for poisoning to occur include the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. Bearing that in mind, it is important to understand what substances can cause poisoning before knowing how to proceed safely. The biggest culprits that can lead to accidental poisoning include medicines, household cleaners, disinfectants, bleach, laundry products, antifreeze, art supplies, and food products.
2. Use and store medications responsibly
If you keep medications in your home, ensure that they are safely locked away and out of the reach of children. This could mean keeping them in a cabinet that it too high for children to reach and placing safety locks on them to ensure they can’t get in. Additionally, keeping medicines stored according to their instructions will ensure that they are in optimal condition every time you take them, reducing the risk of poisoning. Lastly, remember to never share prescription medicines with anyone and to dispose of them appropriately when you’re done with them.
3. Handle food products safely
When handling food products in the home, there are different rules to follow depending on the item. If dealing with fruits and vegetables, make sure to wash them with running water to clear away any debris or dirt that may be on them. It is not advised that you wash any meat, poultry, or eggs as any bacteria from the raw products can spread onto other surfaces, promoting cross contamination. When preparing meals, ensure the workspace is clean and that your hands have been washed as well. Lastly, store food products at their appropriate temperatures to ensure freshness.
4. Wear the right clothing when outdoors
If you’re someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, it is important that you take similar precautions outside the home as well to ensure your safety. When outdoors, wear proper attire, such as boots and long-sleeved clothing, to prevent coming in contact with any unwanted pests. Additionally, remember not to eat any random plants and mushrooms you find outside without confirming if they’re poison or not.
By following these few tips, you can ensure that you’ll stay poison free this week and every week to come. To learn more about how you can stay safe from accidental poisoning, visit https://poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/what-you-can-do/prevention-tips