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Maryland Poison Center Celebrates National Poison Prevention Week

Observed March 17-23, National Poison Prevention Week helps raise awareness about the dangers of poisonings and promotes steps that everyone can take to prevent them.

An iPhone programmed to call the Maryland Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

By Emily Paterson
February 28, 2024

Since 1962, the third full week of March has been celebrated by presidential decree as National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), providing poison centers across the country — including the Maryland Poison Center (MPC) — an opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of poisonings and highlight steps that everyone can take to prevent them. This year, NPPW will be observed March 17-23, with the theme “When the Unexpected Happens, We’re Here for You 24/7.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in the US, with most of these deaths caused by drug and medicine misuse and abuse. The MPC — part of the Department of Practice, Sciences, and Health Outcomes Research (P-SHOR) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy — is a 24-hour telephone service that offers free, fast, and confidential expert advice about poisonings and overdoses. It has provided poisoning treatment advice, education, and prevention services to individuals living across the state of Maryland since 1972 and is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) as a regional poison center.

“The MPC, along with the nation’s other 54 poison centers, uses Poison Prevention Week to draw special attention to the importance of poison safety practices as a way to decrease poisonings from happening,” said Angel Bivens, BS Pharm, MBA, CSPI, director of operations and public education at the MPC. “We view every week as poison prevention week. But when the unexpected happens, we have specially trained pharmacists and nurses available 24/7 to provide customized help for your exact situation – something you can’t get from searching the internet. Plus, your call is free and confidential.”

Although approximately one-third of the calls received by the MPC involve children younger than 6 years old, teens, adults, and older adults are also at risk for poisoning. To help prevent poisonings in your home, follow these tips from the MPC:

Individuals can participate in NPPW by following and sharing posts from the Maryland Poison Center on Facebook, X, Instagram, and its eAntidote blog. Also subscribe to our e-newsletter, Poison Prevention Press.

Families living in Maryland who would like more information about poison prevention can request a poison safety packet for their home. This packet contains information about poison safety, Mr. Yuk stickers, telephone stickers, and a magnet that can help families prevent or prepare for poisoning emergencies.

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