JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

National Poison Prevention Week, held the third week in March each year, is observed nationally to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them.

The Florida/USVI Poison Information Center says If you suspect a poisoning has occurred, or if you have questions concerning poisonings, immediately call the Poison Center help line toll free, 24 hours a day at 800-222-1222 and a specialist in Poison Information will assist you.  Because a life may be at risk, they recommend not wasting time on the Internet, but to call for the right answer the first time.

Each year, about 2.4 million people – more than half under age 6 – swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance. The American Academy of Pediatrics has some important tips to prevent and to treat exposures to poison.

Most poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home but not paying attention. The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil. Be especially vigilant when there is a change in routine. Holidays, visits to and from grandparents’ homes, and other special events may bring greater risk of poisoning if the usual safeguards are defeated or not in place.

  • Store medicine, cleaners, paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children.
  • Install a safety latch – that locks when you close the door – on child-accessible cabinets containing harmful products.
  • Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps and keep out of reach of children. Discard unused medication.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage.
  • Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers.
  • Keep coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Secure remote controls, key fobs, greeting cards, and musical children’s books. These and other devices may contain small button-cell batteries that can cause injury if ingested.

Treatment

If your child is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures due to poison contact or ingestion, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If your child has come in contact with poison or you suspect that your child may have swallowed a button-cell battery, and has mild or no symptoms, call your poison control center at 800-222-1222

Different types and methods of poisoning require different, immediate treatment:

  • Swallowed poison – Remove the item from the child, and have the child spit out any remaining substance. Do not make your child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.
  • Skin poison -- Remove the child’s clothes and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Eye poison -- Flush the child’s eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the inner corner for 15 minutes.
  • Poisonous fumes – Take the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If the child has stopped breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until the child breathes on his or her own, or until someone can take over.

INational Poison Prevention Week n honor of this awareness week, the Poison Prevention Week Council conducts a nationwide poster contest to educate the public about the dangers of poisonings and the importance of poisoning prevention. The winning poster in each division will be featured on the 2013 National Poison Prevention Week posters. First, second and third place winners in each division will be posted on poisonprevention.org.

More than 150 posters were submitted from around the nation. One winner was selected in each of the three divisions: grades K - 2nd; 3rd – 5th; and 6th - 8th.

The Florida/USVI Poison Information Center – Jacksonville Duval County service area winners of the 2013 National Poison Prevention Week Poster Contest are as follows:

  • Grades 6th - 8th, 1st place: Natalie Loos, Jacksonville (pictured, right)
  • Grades 6th - 8th, 2nd place: Madison Yertzell, Jacksonville
  • Grades K - 2nd, 2nd place: Kevin McAfee, Jacksonville

Winners were selected based on creativity, design and poisoning prevention messages.

“The children, and the art teachers who inspire them, continue to impress us with their creativity and talent,” said Courtney Wilson, Poison Prevention Week Council chair. “It has been a pleasure to review all of the submissions. We are extremely proud of the winners and are excited to share their work.”

The U.S. Congress established National Poison Prevention Week on September 16, 1961. Shortly thereafter, the Poison Prevention Week Council was organized to coordinate this annual event and promote poison prevention.