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Poison Prevention Week

IU Health: Alex Ponce Talks Poison Prevention

Time to Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet for National Poison Prevention Week

Writer / Alex Ponce, Emergency Department Pharmacy Resident at IU Health
Photography Provided

The third full week of March each year is National Poison Prevention Week. This week is meant to remind people to stay vigilant about potentially poisonous substances in the home. In 2019 more than two million exposures were reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. With families spending more time indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, children and isolated seniors are even more at risk for accidental poisoning that could lead to injury or death.

Accidental poisonings are a serious issue.

According to the 2020 National Poison Data System annual report, 1.9 million exposures occurred in the home, and a total of 77% of all exposures were unintentional. The most common causes of accidental exposures include children finding products within the house or people making mistakes when taking medications. Exposures to medications for pain, blood pressure and diabetes, as well as household cleaning products and cosmetics, are frequently reported. Poison accidents can be prevented by labeling these substances clearly and storing them properly.

Storage can help to reduce accidental poisonings.

Things like pesticides, paint, cleaning products and toiletries can be harmful if consumed. One of the best ways to prevent an exposure is to store substances properly within the home. Household products such as windshield wiper fluids, cleaning products and pesticides should be kept in their original packaging and clearly labeled. Medications should be stored in original containers in a safe place out of reach of children, such as a locked cabinet or a locked container. Keep the phone number for the Indiana Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone and contact them if there is concern for an exposure.

Disposing of unused or expired medication is easy.

Many people have unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications, over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements in their homes. Proper disposal of these medications helps to reduce the risk of exposure within the home and prevents environmental contamination. The Drug Enforcement Administration holds a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice per year, the next one taking place on April 30, 2022. The Indiana state government also maintains a list of year-round take-back locations on their website. Additionally, medication disposal bags may be purchased online or from certain pharmacies to dispose of small quantities of tablets, capsules or liquid medications. Instructions on how to use these products can be found on the package. Many of these locations do not accept syringes, needles or medications that include needles. To dispose of these products, please visit the Indiana Department of Health’s website for more information. With your help, we can reduce the number of accidental poisonings.

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