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In recognition of National Poison Prevention Week, President Obama observed that each day, emergency rooms treat nearly 2,000 Americans for accidental poisonings, and dozens die as a result of ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise exposing themselves to poisonous substances.

In the event of an accidental poisoning, the President noted that quick action can prevent serious injury and save lives. If confronted with a suspected poisoning, individuals should call the national poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. He suggested that families post this number near their home telephone, which connects callers to potentially life-saving information at local and regional poison control centers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Click here for the full Proclamation.

Children are particularly susceptible to unintentional poisoning. More than half of all reported poison exposures involve children under the age of six, and many occur when unsupervised children find and consume medicines or harmful chemicals. Unintentional poisonings among young people often occur when misusing or abusing prescription medications such as pain killers, sedatives, and stimulants taken from a home medicine cabinet.

New visits for drug-related poisoning in the United States continue to rise; therefore, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the American Association of Poison Control Centers are raising awareness about the dangers of drug poisoning as part of Poison Prevention Week (March 20-26). In addition, ACEP sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to continue allocating more than $29 million in funding for the 57 poison control centers that serve the nation 24 hours per day, year-round.

How to Prevent Unintentional Drug Poisonings:

•Keep all drugs out of the reach of young children. Lock medicine cabinets and properly dispose of old medications.

•Lock any cabinets that contain alcohol or make sure any alcohol beverages are in an area where only a legal adult can access it.

•Follow directions on the label when taking medications. Make sure to read all warning signs listed.

•Never share or sell prescription drugs.

•Keep all pain medication in a place where they can only be accessed only by someone who takes them or gives them.

•Put the poison control number, 1-800-222-1222 near every home telephone and save it in your cell phone. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

•Avoid taking medicine in front of young children because they mimic adults.

•Never leave children alone with household products or drugs.

•Do not call medicine candy.

•Do not let guests leave drugs where children can find them, such as a pillbox, purse, coat pocket or backpack.

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