For National Poison Prevention Week, preparation is key

Poisonings can happen in just a matter of seconds. The Poison Control Center is a free resource just a phone call away,

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s National Poison Prevention Week, and Florida’s poison control centers want to remind people to be extra careful--and be ready to act.

Whether it’s hand sanitizer, spray bleach, or even a lithium battery, poisonings can happen in just a matter of seconds. According to the Poison Control Center, about 90% of poisonings occur in the home. That’s why it’s just a phone call away. Brie Burge is with the local office.

“Life happens, we understand that,” Burge said. “We’re just here as a resource, a free resource.”

Burge says while most occur in the home, calls related to COVID-19 did go up last year. Some cases were at alarming rates. Burge says the number of cases involving hand sanitizer went up about 80%, and disinfectants went up 75%. Here’s one increase that could surprise people. The Poison Control says cases related to the sleep aid, Melatonin, went up 43%.

“I have melatonin gummies at home,” Burge said. “If someone’s leaving them sitting out on their nightstand, a child could easily walk up and unscrew the cap.

But here’s a good statistic. Burge says if you call Poison Control in an emergency, 86% of the time, their office can treat you at home. Which would save you a trip to the hospital or pediatrician.

Poison Prevention Week began in the 1960s as a way to spread awareness. Burge says this year, the center wants people to follow 3 steps.

1. Prepare: save the Poison Control Hotline number in your cell. It’s 1-800-222-1222.

2. Prevent: take steps to prevent exposures in your home. This includes keeping dangerous items locked away, or keeping potentially harmful products in their original packaging and containers.

3. Protect-- that’s knowing when to call for help.

“When seconds count, if someone has gotten, a child has gotten into something, you’ve accidentally double dosed your medication, you’ve gotten bit by a snake... knowing to call us for help.”

Keeping you and your family safe 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has several online events scheduled for National Poison Prevention Week. More information on events can be found on Florida’s Poison Control Centers Facebook events page.

• Monday, March 22 @ 1pm: Partner Chat with Safe Kids Worldwide

• Tuesday, March 23 @ 1pm: Virtual Story Time & Tox Tales (for elementary-aged children)

• Wednesday, March 24 @ 1pm: Toxic Trivia with Kahoot (for teens)

• Thursday, March 25 @ 1pm: Tox Talk – When Life Happens (for adults)

• Friday, March 26 @ 1pm: Virtual Escape Room (for teens and adults)

Debi Gerbert, pediatric physician's assistant at Jacksonville's Nemours Children's Clinic to talk about ways to keep children safe from strong poisonous products.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.