Next week commemorates the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), which will be officially observed March 18–24. Each year, the observance of NPPW is organized by the Poison Prevention Week Council, a coalition of partners working to raise awareness about poison prevention across wide-ranging disciplines.

Since passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act in 1970, the child-resistant packaging required on many medicines and toxic substances has saved hundreds of lives. However, child poisoning, particularly from medicines, remains a public health problem. How big a problem is it?  Every year, approximately 60,000 emergency department visits and half a million calls to poison control centers are made because young children have gotten into medicines.

A great programs to promote in your workplace, school and community is Up and Away and Out of Sight. This program designed by CDC and others it aimed at a new generation of caregivers about the importance of safe medicine storage. In six simple steps it teaches how to make your home safe, raise awareness, teach your kids and what to do in an emergency. http://www.upandaway.org/

But it is not just little kids and home medicines that are the problem.  NPPW also serves to focus attention on the substantial increase in the number of poisoning deaths among youths and adults during the past decade. In 2008, poisoning became the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States . Nearly 90% of poisoning deaths involved drugs, and approximately half of those involved prescription medications. Of the prescription medication overdose deaths, 74% involved opioid analgesics.  This class of medications includes drugs Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Avinza, Dilaudid and Duragesic.

Additional information about carbon monoxide poisoning, lead poisoning, and other unintentional poisonings is available from CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/co/default.htm, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead, and http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/poisoning/index.html, respectively.

Poison Control