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Poison Is Not Just Child's Play

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Child poisonings make up a large percentage of the 191,494 poison-related calls in the state, but another group of Floridians are paying the ultimate price for their poison mistakes: adults.

“People are quick to recognize the dangers to children, but adults are less likely to realize the risk they face themselves,” said Dr. Richard Wiseman, Director of the Florida Poison Information Center, Miami.

Florida adults between 25 and 65 years old are most likely to die from accidental poisonings, and more adults are dying from poison-related deaths now than ever. Since 1997, Florida adult deaths related to poisoning have increased 16% each year, which totals to a 328% increase for the entire ten-year period (1997-2007). An increase in use of prescription pain killers, sedatives, psycho-therapeutic drugs, and other narcotics may have contributed to this increase in accidental overdoses.

“Poison prevention is a serious issue for all Floridians,” said Dr. Joseph Chiaro, Deputy Secretary for Children's Medical Services. “Adults should take their own medication responsibly and as parents, commit to making homes poison-proof for their children as well.”

DOH's Children's Medical Services administers the Florida Poison Information Center Network (FPICN), which takes calls from the poison hotline (1-800-222-1222) twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The calls are routed to one of three nationally accredited poison centers in Tampa, Jacksonville or Miami, where trained staff assess and manage poisoning emergencies. Many poisonings can be handled at home with the expert advice of a poison information specialist.

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The Florida Poison Information Center Network offers the following tips to help prevent accidental poisonings in adults:

* Keep household products and medicines in their original containers.

* Read warnings and follow directions on the label of your prescription or over-the-counter medicines. If you have questions, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

* Always measure medicine dose with the proper dispensing tool – don't guess.

* Don't give or take medicines in the dark. Turn on a light to make sure you are taking the proper medicine in the proper amount.

* Some medicines can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol, foods or other medicine. Contact your doctor or pharmacist to make sure your drugs are safe.

* Prescription medicine should not be shared.