Northwest NEWS

April 3, 2000

Home & Garden

Poisonings are third leading cause of accidental death

by the Washington Poison Center

   Poisonings rank right behind car crashes and shootings as the top three causes of deadly accidents. The National Center for Health Statistics lists poisonings as the third leading cause of accidental fatalities.

   Keep the Washington Poison Center telephone number near your phone in case of an emergency. The toll-free 24-hour telephone number for all of Washington state is 1-800-732-6985. It's on the inside cover of your phone book.

   With just a phone call, consumers are in touch with a team of pharmacists, nurses, and poison experts, backed by physician toxicologists who can quickly respond to a medical emergency or take time to answer questions.

   The nationally-recognized Washington Poison Center responds to more than 135,000 calls for help per year, making it one of the busiest poison centers in the country. Nearly 85 percent of all poisonings can be managed at home or in the workplace, saving millions of dollars in unnecessary hospital visits and health care costs, not to mention lots of time and inconvenience.

   While poisonings are the third leading cause of accidental death, the death rate of children has dropped dramatically, due to the around-the-clock emergency medical assistance of poison centers and through poison prevention efforts, including child-resistant packaging. Today, most poison fatalities are adults, and many of those deaths are drug-related.

   In homes with young children, keep household chemicals out of sight and out of reach, and use child-resistent caps on prescription medicine and over-the-counter products. Have Syrup of Ipecac available. Use "Mr. Yuk" stickers to teach everyone that Mr. Yuk's scowling, green face is a warning sign to stay away from poisonous products.