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March 13, 2002


Focus Is On Prevention March 17-23 For National Poison Prevention Week

Accidental poisonings are a serious – and sometimes deadly -- matter. According to the National Poison Prevention Week Council, 30 children die every year due to accidental poisoning, with approximately 1 million phone calls placed to Poison Control Centers annually by adults seeking help when children have swallowed something harmful.

In an effort to prevent such tragic events, the Georgia Poison Center, a department within the Grady Health System, recognizes Poison Prevention Week March 17-23, to raise awareness of the dangers of unintentional poisonings, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent accidental poisonings from occurring. Since its inception in 1961, National Poison Prevention Week has focused on preventing poisonings among children under five years of age.

Robert J. Geller, M.D., medical director of the Georgia Poison Center and associate professor of pediatrics with the Emory University School of Medicine, warns parents and others that it is especially important to store chemicals in their proper containers, and out of reach and out of sight of youngsters. "That means that kerosene should not be stored in a soda pop bottle," Dr. Geller said, noting that the Georgia Poison Center receives an average of 10,000 calls each month.

In addition, chemicals should always be out of the reach of children, as should prescription medicines. Medications should be taken promptly in accord with the prescribed schedules and should not be allowed to sit around where children might have access to them.

Dr. Geller also advises that all chemicals, whether household cleaners or otherwise, should only be used for the purpose for which they are intended.

"An insecticide that is safe for your lawn may not be safe to use in your home," he warns. "In other words, only use products that you understand well, and use them how they're meant to be used. There are plenty of potentially dangerous chemicals in your household. Use them cautiously and wisely."

Here are some other useful tips from the Georgia Poison Center:

Store Poisons Safely
- Store poisons in locked cabinets out of the reach and sight of your children and pets.
- Keep medicines and vitamins in bottles with child safety caps (child-resistant packaging). Make sure the caps are on tight at all times.

Use Poisons Safely
- Before using a poison, read the label on the bottle.
- While you are using a poison, never leave it out where a child may find it.
- After using a poison, put it back in a locked cabinet. Make sure the bottle is closed tightly.
- Never call medicine "candy." Your child may eat the medicine thinking it is candy.
- Do not take medicine in front of your child or give medicine to one child while another is watching. Children are natural mimics. They may be tempted to take the medicine later, when you are not around.

Know What To Do In A Poison Emergency
- Keep the telephone number of the Georgia Poison Center on or near your telephones.
- If you think someone has been poisoned, call the Georgia Poison Center right away.

In an emergency, contact the Georgia Poison Center at (404) 616-9000, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information contact the center's Public Education staff at (404) 616-9235 during normal business hours, or visit the Georgia Poison Center web site at

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