American Association of Poison Control Centers Reminds Parents to Put Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight

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In 2009, America’s 57 poison centers received more than 575,000 calls involving children younger than 6 and medicines – including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, and vitamins.

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“Unfortunately, as a pediatrician and poison center medical director, I’ve seen too many children poisoned by medicine that a parent forgot to put away or that a child found in a grandmother’s purse.”
-- Dr. Robert Geller

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in reminding parents to lock medicine up and away and out of sight to keep children safe, according to Dr. Robert Geller, medical director of the Georgia Poison Center.

In 2009, America’s 57 poison centers received more than 575,000 calls involving children younger than 6 and medicines – including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, and vitamins. In addition, according to the CDC, more than 60,000 young children are treated in emergency rooms every year because they get into medicine while their parents or caregivers were not looking.

“Unfortunately, as a pediatrician and poison center medical director, I’ve seen too many children poisoned by medicine that a parent forgot to put away or that a child found in a grandmother’s purse,” Geller said. “When accidents like that happen, it’s important for parents and caregivers to know that help is just a phone call away.”

A call to the poison help line at 1-800-222-1222 connects you to your local poison center, which is staffed by nurses, pharmacists and doctors who can help you and your child. The expert will ask you some questions to determine whether your child can be treated at home or needs to go to the emergency room. Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and answer millions of calls each year about poison exposures of all kinds and people of all ages. Every call is free and confidential.

“Even if you aren’t sure it’s an emergency, call your poison center,” Geller said. “It’s better to be safe.”

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has partnered with the CDC in its new “Up and Away and Out of Sight” campaign, which educates parents and caregivers about how to store medicine safely and protect the health of their children. Experts at America’s poison centers encourage every parent, grandparent and caregiver to follow these important reminders:

  • Put medicine up and away and out of reach every time.
  • Make sure the safety cap is locked on every bottle of medicine.
  • Never tell children that medicine is candy to get them to take it.
  • Make sure your guests keep medicine up and away and out of sight, too.
  • Program the poison help number, 1-800-222-1222, into your home phone and cell phone in case of an emergency.

“One more thing,” Geller said. “People often feel they’ve done something wrong if their child has been exposed to a poison. But by calling your poison center when that happens, you are doing exactly the right thing.”

For more information, members of the media may contact Loreeta Canton, AAPCC communications manager, at 703-894-1863 or canton@aapcc.org.

Please note: The AAPCC will be participating in a live Twitter chat with the CDC and other partners concerning children, medicine safety and the Up and Away campaign. To join us, visit the CDCgov Twitter channel here from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. Join the chat by using the hashtag #MedsUpAway.

The AAPCC supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, private, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians and poison information providers. In addition, the AAPCC maintains the only poison information and surveillance database in the United States, providing real-time monitoring of unusual poisoning patterns, chemical exposures and other emerging public health hazards. The AAPCC partners with federal agencies such as HRSA and CDC, as well as private industry.

To learn more, visit http://www.aapcc.org, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or read our blog at http://aapcc.wordpress.com.

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Loreeta Canton
AAPCC
703-894-1863
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