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Utah Poison Control Center preaches safety during awareness week

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 20, 2024

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The Utah Poison Control Center is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and has been ramping up safety awareness during National Poison Control Week, March 17-23, 2024.

Since 1954, the Utah Poison Control Center has handled over 2 million cases.

This week, coinciding with National Poison Control Week, UPCC also is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

“The milestone of our 70th anniversary is a great time to reflect on the past and look to the future,” UPCC Director Amberly Johnson said in a press release. “We have a team dedicated to health care providers, educators and administrative staff who work diligently to provide the people of Utah an excellent resource for poison help and poison prevention education.”

Poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional death, in Utah and across the nation, according to the UPCC. The center manages over 40,000 poison cases each year in Utah. While just over 50% of exposures in the state involve children 5 years old or younger, poisonings can happen to anyone at any age.

According to the UPCC, the No. 1 poison exposure in the state for all ages combined is pain medication. Most of the drugs are actually over-the-counter and don’t require a prescription. Other common poisonings involve cosmetics, cleaning supplies, and vitamins and minerals.

There also are outdoor dangers such as spider, mosquito, tick and snake bites as well as bee and hornet stings. Animal bites from bats, bobcats, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and skunks also can be dangerous.

Some plants also can cause harm, such as philodendron, jimsonweed, foxglove, dumb cane, Virginia creeper, stinging nettle and baneberry.

“Poison prevention is vital to saving lives and keeping people safe,” Johnson said. “Making poison safety a year-round priority will go a long way in helping to decrease poisonings. Our team continues to be there for Utah day in and day out, with free, expert and confidential help anytime day or night. When the unexpected happens, we’re here for you.”

The UPCC is a 24-hour service located at the University of Utah college of pharmacy that provides poison information, clinical toxicology consultation and poison prevention education.

Some tips offered by the organization include the following:

  • Be prepared for a poison emergency: Keep the poison control phone number at your fingertips by saving it in your cellphone. Save the number. Someday it may save you back. 1-800-222-1222
  • Practice safe storage: Always store medicines, household cleaners and hazardous products up and away from children. Keep them in their original, child-resistant containers.
  • Read and follow directions: Review instructions on prescription and over-the-counter medicine and on all other product labels before using them.
  • Dispose of unused or expired medication: Take these medications to a drop-box location to dispose of them safely.
  • Detect invisible threats: Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home.
  • When you call, be sure you know the exact name of the product, amount taken, when the poisoning happened, the age and weight of the poisoned person, the current condition of the person and a phone number where you can be reached.

The UPCC has several poison prevention tools. Visit utahpoisoncontrol.org to access resources for all ages.


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