Commentary: Raising Awareness– March is Poison Prevention Month

By Jeff Gillaspie

March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month, and it is a great time to review potential hazards and raise awareness about unintentional poisonings and ways to prevent them.

For adults and children alike, common household supplies can be dangerous when ingested, inhaled or making contact with skin or eyes. Additionally, over-the-counter and prescription drugs can have adverse effects if not taken with caution. In support of Poison Prevention Awareness Month we offer you the following tips to keep you and your family safe.

Household medicines:
• Always follow the directions on the medicine label when you are giving or taking medication. Correct dosing is important, especially for children. Note the times and dosages given to prevent accidental overdosing. According to the Poison Control Center, more than 57,000 accidental overdoses occur each year with over-the-counter medications.
• Medicine should be kept in locked cabinets, out of the sight and reach of children. Additionally, you should never call medicine ‘candy.’ Children often imitate parents, so take your medicine where they can’t watch.
• Medications that once were available only by prescription can now be purchased over-the-counter, and people often take more than one medication. Check with your doctor before taking multiple over-the-counter or prescription medications.
• Never share prescribed medication with someone else, as dosage varies from person to person.
• Periodically clean out your medicine cabinets. Check expiration dates on over-the-counter and prescription drugs and discard those that have expired.

Household chemicals:
• Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous or hazardous to your health.
• Keep any chemicals in their original containers and be careful of look-alike substances. Read instructions and warnings before use.
• Never mix household chemicals, as this could release toxic gases.
• Make sure the room you are cleaning or working in is well ventilated. Open windows or turn on a fan. Also, wear gloves to avoid skin irritation or burns from chemicals.
• Buy cleaners in smaller quantities, and discard the unused or unneeded extras. Read the label for proper disposal procedures.
• Keep chemical items in locked cabinets, away from children. This includes in your kitchen and bathrooms as well as in your shed or garage.

What to do if poisoning occurs:
• You must remain calm.
• Call 911 or the poison control center at 1.800.222.1222. This line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Keep this number posted near the phone.
• Have the following information available: The victim’s age and weight. The container or bottle of the poison. The time of exposure and the address where the poisoning occurred.
• Stay on the phone and follow the directions given by the operator.
• With many pills, it may take several hours or longer for symptoms to develop. Do not wait. Call the poison control center immediately.
• Anyone exposed to a toxic gas should be removed from the source quickly and placed in fresh air.

According to the Poison Prevention Week Council, more than two million people suffer some type of poisoning each year in the United States, and 90 percent of those occur in the home. Take time during Poison Prevention Awareness Month to review potential poisons in your home and take the proactive measures to stay safe.

For more information call 1-866-825-5433 or visit

Jeff Gillaspie is the vice president of Healthcare for AlliedBarton Security Services. AlliedBarton is the industry’s premier provider of highly trained security personnel to many industries including higher education, commercial real estate, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, and shopping centers.

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