The Southeast Texas Poison Center at UTMB joined poison centers around the country in celebrating the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week March 18-24.
Poisoning is now the leading cause of death from unintentional injuries in the United States, ahead of motor vehicle crashes and guns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The Southeast Texas Poison Center and the nation’s other 56 poison centers are committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of every American through poison prevention and free, confidential, expert medical services,” said director Jon Thompson. The center responds to calls through the Poison Help line at 800-222-1222, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to help those who have been exposed to toxic substances.
“Poisoning can occur at any time and to anyone,” Thompson said. “The Southeast Texas Poison Center works 24/7 to help those who have been exposed to a poison or to answer the public’s questions about a potential poisoning. We also reach out to our communities with information about how poisonings occur and ways to prevent them. Prevention is the best possible medicine.”
The Southeast Texas Poison Center at UTMB, founded in 1959, serves as an emergency treatment resource for the public and health care professionals in 28 counties in southeast Texas.
In 2010, U.S. poison centers answered more than 3.9 million calls to the national 800-222-1222 number, including nearly 2.4 million calls about human exposures to poisons, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. About 75 percent of all calls to poison centers originated in people’s homes, and about 71 percent of the people who called with poison emergencies were treated at home following the advice of poison center experts, saving millions of dollars in medical expenses.
“If the unthinkable happens, it’s good to know help is just a phone call away,” Thompson said. “Program your cell phone with the Poison Help number and also post it near your home phone.” The national association has a telephone application that can be downloaded from their website
Since 1962, the third week in March has been designated National Poison Prevention Week and has focused national attention on the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. National Poison Prevention Week, established by the U.S. Congress, is commissioned by the Poison Prevention Week Council, an organization of public and private partners committed to reducing unintentional poisonings and promoting poison prevention.