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National Poison Prevention Week

March 1, 2023

National Poison Prevention Week occurs during the third full week of March every year. It was started by Congress in 1961 in order to raise awareness about unintentional poisonings and to promote poison prevention. Poisonings are a danger to people of all ages, so it is important to be prepared and know what resources are available before an emergency arises.

Poison Fast Facts
  • More than 2 million poisonings are reported annually
  • Most non-fatal poisonings occur in those less than 6 years of age
  • Over 90% of poisonings happen at home
  • The majority of poisonings occur in the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom
  • More than 70% of people who call a poison center get the help they need over the phone without having to go to the hospital

There are 55 poison centers throughout the nation that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help with poisoning emergencies and provide information to help prevent poisonings. The centers are staffed by poison experts, including nurses, pharmacists, and providers. When calling the toll-free Poison HelpLine (1-800-222-1222), you will be automatically connected to your local poison center.

Preventing Poisonings

The best way to prevent poisonings is to ensure proper storage of common household hazards. This includes items such as medications, household cleaning and laundry supplies, lawn care items, pesticides, and batteries. These items should be locked up, high, and out of reach from children, grandchildren, and pets. They should always be stored in their original containers and never be kept in food containers such as cups or bottles.

Any medication, including those you buy without a prescription, can cause harm if taken in the wrong way or by the wrong person. This is why it is important to store medicine properly. It should be stored in original containers with the original label so individuals know what each product is and how to safely use it. Safety caps should also be used and tightly secured, but the use of these caps does not mean that potentially harmful items do not still need to be stored safely. Safe storage also includes keeping medications such as inhalers, insulin devices (vials or pens), and other injectable medications out of the reach of children and pets.

According to the CDC, around 50,000 children go to the emergency room every year because they got into medicine when an adult wasn’t looking.

Medications are especially dangerous for children as they may see adults taking them or may need to take medicine themselves. Children should be educated on medication safety so they understand what medication is and why a trusted adult must give it to them. Medications should not be compared to candy, even if the child doesn’t like taking medicine.

Medication Disposal

A great way to decrease the risk of unintentional poisoning is to properly dispose of unused medications and to only keep medications on hand that you are currently taking. The majority of Lewis Drug pharmacies have MedDrop boxes available for use during pharmacy hours. These boxes are bright green in color and are approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a convenient and safe way to dispose of pharmacy waste. The MedDrop box at your Lewis Drug pharmacy can be used to dispose of all expired, unused, or unwanted medications including those you get over the counter or for your pets.

Items that are not allowed to be disposed of in MedDrop boxes includes trash, regulated medical waste, sharps, syringes, thermometers, hazardous waste, illicit drugs, commercial waste, or aerosols.

Next time you need to dispose of unwanted or unused medications, contact your local Lewis pharmacist for guidance on how to do so in the correct manner.

If poisoning is suspected, it is important to act immediately. Call the toll-free Poison HelpLine (1-800-222-1222) right away as they will be able to guide you through the situation and make specific treatment recommendations.


Health Resources & Services Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Up and Away

Health Resources & Services Administration

Cincinnati Children’s: Drug and Poison Information Center


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