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Local hospital boosts awareness during
National Poison Prevention Week
March 18-24, 2012 will mark the 50th Anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), first established by Congress in September 1961. As one of the longest continuously running, health and safety campaigns in the United States, the key goal of NPPW is to create national awareness about the risk of injury or death due to poisoning.

From unintentional child poisonings with household products to prescription medicine abuse, poisonings and poisoning-related incidents have a nationwide reach. While there have been tremendous strides and measurable success in poisoning prevention, there is still work to be done.

Julie Kohm, Emergency Department RN at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH), said the ER at SGCMH doesn’t see a lot of poisoning cases which she attributes to education about the subject.

“Child-resistant packaging on medicines and household products as well as the prohibition of lead-based paint in homes are among poisoning prevention successes, significantly contributed to improved safety,” said Kohm. “However, emerging hazards involving pest control products, prescription medicine abuse and button batteries have again reignited the need for increased awareness."

Kohm reminded residents that the Ste. Genevieve Community Services Forum stages prescription drug take back events periodically, which are a great way to dispose of drugs properly. This time of year, poisonous snake bites can be just as hazardous as our man-made chemicals, according to Kohm.

“In March, the snakes wake up, and snakebites may be one of the more unpleasant injuries associated with this time of year,” she said. “It’s important to remain calm and call the poison control center immediately for instructions on all snake bites. It’s a great idea to program your cell phone with the nationwide poison control center toll free number, 1-800-222-1222.”

In just the past year, America’s 57 poison control centers fielded 4 million calls, treating 2.4 million human poison exposures and handling 1.6 million information calls.
Spring Clean and Brush-Up on These Tips
-- Store all dangerous household products and chemicals out of reach and out of sight of small children and pets.
-- Store all potential poisons in their original containers.
-- Never store potential poisons in containers used for eating and drinking. (For example: Do not mix up a pesticide or weed killer and then store it in a water bottle or milk jug.)
-- Leave the original labels on all products.
-- Lock up medicines.
-- Use child resistant caps/closures.
-- Always read the label before using and follow the instructions on medicines, cleaners, pesticides, automotive, lawn and garden products for their proper use.
-- Never refer to medicine as candy to a young child.  Avoid taking medicine in front of small children. (They like to imitate you.)
-- Turn on a light when taking or giving medication.
-- When you are using household chemical products and medicines, never let them out of your sight, even if you must take them along when answering the door or phone.
-- Clean out your medicine cabinet periodically and properly dispose of old and unused medicines.
-- Install carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
-- Know the names of plants located in and around the home.
First Aid for Poisonous Snake Bites
-- Remain calm.
-- Do not try to capture the snake.
-- Note time of the bite and remove all tight clothing or jewelry which may delay or hide swelling.
-- Call the poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222 for instructions on all snake bites.
-- Immobilize the limb or body part at or slightly above heart level.
-- Wash the bite area with soap and water.
-- DO NOT use ice or a tourniquet.
-- DO NOT cut over the fang marks and try to suck out the venom.
-- Transport the patient to the closest hospital.
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