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Preventing Poisoning with Common Sense
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Red Cross
March 20, 2008

Since 1962, National Poison Prevention Week has helped to educate people and help them prevent dangerous poisonings. More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year across the country. The American Red Cross urges people to follow these steps to help prevent and respond to a poisoning emergency:

  • If you suspect a poisoning emergency, call the National Poison Control Center toll-free at (800) 222-1211. Post this and other emergency phone numbers by all of your telephones.
  • Keep all chemicals and medicines locked up and out of sight.
  • Be careful when handling substances, chemicals and cleaners that could be harmful. Only use them in well-ventilated areas and wear protective clothing, such as gloves and a face mask.
  • Use common sense with your own medications.
    • Keep medications in the containers they came in. Make sure they are kept out of children’s reach.
    • Read the product information carefully. Use only as directed.
    • Be aware of the possible side effects and any possible interactions with other medications you are taking. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions.
    • Never use another person’s prescribed medications or medications that have expired.
  • Poisons can be swallowed, inhaled, absorbed or injected. If you suspect a poisoning:
    • Check the scene and the person. Try to find out what poison was taken. Look for any containers and take them with you to the phone.
    • Call the National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 and follow their instructions.
    • Care for any life threatening conditions found. DO NOT give the person anything to eat or drink unless directed to do so by the National Poison Control Center or Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in the hallways near sleeping areas, avoiding corners where air does not circulate, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to test the alarm every month.
  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately, and then call 911.

Learn how to prevent and care for poisonings as well as other life-saving skills in an American Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED course. Contact your local Red Cross chapter to register.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters at home and abroad, collects and distributes nearly half of the nation's blood supply, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and families. The American Red Cross, a charity and not a government agency, depends on voluntary contributions of time, money and blood to perform its humanitarian mission.

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