The New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center is joining the other poison prevention partners and centers across the U.S. in celebrating the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week March 18-24, according to Dr. Rick Dart, president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).
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. “Much progress has been made in poisoning prevention in the 50 years since National Poison Prevention Week was first observed,” Dart said. “However, there is still much work to be done; poisoning is now the leading cause of death from unintentional injuries in the U.S. – ahead of motor vehicle crashes and guns.”
Fifty years ago, 3-year-old Philip was rushed to the nearest hospital 30 minutes away. Tragically, he had found and drunk a bottle of rat poison. Although every attempt was made to save his life, he lived only a few more hours. Fifty years later, his sister Cathy Seifried of Texas is still grieving. According to Seifried, her brother’s death had long-lasting effects on her entire family. “I had good parents,” Seifried said. “They managed to function and go through the daily motions, but as a family, we were broken.”
Today, Seifried focuses on supporting poison control centers. “If our family would’ve had access to the education, outreach and treatment services today’s poison centers offer, we may have avoided the heartbreak caused by my brother’s death.”
“Cathy’s story illustrates the importance of the treatment services provided by America’s 57 poison centers,” said Debbie Carr, AAPCC executive director. “Unfortunately, federal budget cuts in 2011 reduced funding for poison centers by 36 percent; further cuts will make it difficult for poison centers to continue providing those essential, life-saving services.”
America’s 57 poison centers are committed to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of every American through poison prevention and free, confidential, expert medical services. Poison centers respond to calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help those who have been exposed to toxic substances and to provide information about how poisonings occur and ways to prevent them. In 2010, U.S. poison centers answered more than 3.9 million calls, including nearly 2.4 million calls about human exposures to poisons.
About 75 percent of all calls to poison centers originated in people’s homes, and about 71 percent of the people who called with poison emergencies were treated at home following the advice of poison center experts, saving millions of dollars in medical expenses. Since 1962, the third week of March has been designated National Poison Prevention Week and has focused national attention on the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. Every day of this year’s 50th anniversary will focus on a poison-prevention-related theme:
- Sunday, March 18 – Poisonings Span a Lifetime
- Monday, March 19 – Children Act Fast … So Do Poisons
- Tuesday, March 20 – Poison Centers: Saving Lives 24/7
- Wednesday, March 21 – Take Your Medicines Safely
- Thursday, March 22 – Home Safe Home
- Friday, March 23 – Poison Prevention Superheroes: Share Your Stories
- Saturday, March 24 – 50 Ways To Prevent Poisonings
“Philip has been gone for 50 years,” Seifried said. “I know there are many other stories just like his. For their sakes, please get involved with your local poison center in promoting poisoning prevention and the Poison Help number. You can make a difference.” “If the unthinkable happens, it’s good to know help is just a phone call away,” Dart said. “Program your cell phone with the Poison Help number and post it near your home phone. 1-800-222-1222.”
The AAPCC supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians and poison information providers.
Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322