How to Prevent Poisoning How to Prevent Poisoning
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

June is National Safety Month– an ideal time to focus on steps you can take to keep yourself and those you care about safe from unintentional poisoning.

Any substance, including medications, can be poisonous if too much is taken. When the person taking or giving a substance did not mean to cause harm, this is an unintentional poisoning.

What You Should Know In 2006, a total of 27,531 people in the United States died from unintentional poisoning. In 2008, more than 2,000 people a day— a total of 732,316— were seen in emergency departments after a poisoning incident. Unintentional poisoning deaths are on the rise. Poisoning death rates in the United States increased by 63% from 1999 to 2004. 96% of unintentional poisoning deaths are a result of drug poisoning—and more than half of them are due to prescription drugs. An estimated 71,000 children (18 years old and younger) are seen in emergency departments each year because of medication poisonings (excluding recreational drug use). Over 80% were because an unsupervised child found and consumed

A recent CDC issue brief Unintentional Drug Poisoning in the United States summarizes the most recent information about deaths and emergency department visits resulting from drug overdoses. Learn about drug overdose trends, the most common drugs involved, regions and populations most severely affected, and recommendations for prevention.

What You Can Do

To keep yourself and others safe from unintentional poisoning:

Follow directions on labels when you give or take medicines. Some medicines cannot be taken safely with other medications or with alcohol. To avoid drug interactions, check with your doctor if you are taking more than one prescription medication at a time. Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers. Never share or sell your prescription drugs to others, including family members. Keep all pain medications, such as methadone, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, in a safe place only reachable by people for whom use is prescribed. Monitor the use of medicines for children and teenagers, such as medicines for attention deficit disorder, or ADD, and cold and cough medications. Follow federal guidelines for disposal of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs.

To protect children from poisoning:

Keep medicines and toxic products, such as cleaning solutions, in locked or childproof cabinets. Put the nationwide poison control center phone number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every telephone in your home. You should also program it into your cellular phone. Call poison control if you think a child has been poisoned and if they are awake and alert. Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and your child has collapsed or is not breathing. Follow label directions and read all warnings when giving medicines to children. Always secure the child safety cap and put medicine away immediately after you use it.


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