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Banner Good Samaritan Poison & Drug Information Center celebrates National Poison Prevention Week, March 17-23


PHOENIX (March 15, 2013) – Each year, Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center receives more than 100,000 calls from Maricopa County residents and medical professionals. From scorpion stings to adverse drug effects, the Center’s staff helps callers identify necessary treatment and talks them through first aid at home, when appropriate.

National Poison Prevention Week is March 17-23. To celebrate this important week, the Center will take you behind the scenes to illustrate the wide range of calls that staff might receive throughout a typical week in the call center.

Monday, March 18 – Kids act fast…so do poisons
Children younger than 6 account for nearly half of the calls placed to poison centers. Here are some tips to ensure your kids are safe from poison dangers:

  • Keep cleaning supplies and medicines locked up and away from children.
  • When it comes to poison prevention, child-resistant is not child-proof. Layer the protection (i.e. re-seal and lock up, out of sight and reach).
  • Tell children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them. Never call medicine “candy” to get them to take it.
  • Add the poison helpline (1-800-222-1222) to your cell phone and all emergency contact lists and emergency kits, and make sure that babysitters and caregivers know where to find them.

Tuesday, March 19 – Desert critters surface as temps rise
The weather is heating up, and poisonous desert critters are coming out of hibernation to enjoy it. The Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center receives more than 12,000 calls each year about people who have been bitten or stung by scorpions, rattlesnakes, spiders and other venomous creatures. When you are outdoors, remember to:

  • Wear long pants and lace-up leather shoes or boots that cover the ankles.
  • Remain alert. Be extra cautious when temperatures are above 74 degrees in the daytime. South-facing slopes and rocky areas are places where snake encounters are more likely.
  • Don't handle, touch or play with snakes or other critters. Walk around them if you can.
  • A long walking stick can be a good hiking companion. It can be used in an emergency to move a snake out of bite range. Bite range is between one-quarter to one-half the length of the snake's body.
  • Step on top of rocks or logs to get a clear view of what's on the other side before stepping down.
  • Don't place your hands where you can't see. Don't blindly reach under rocks or logs.

Call poison control immediately at 1-800-222-1222 if you are bitten or stung by a desert critter. The call center staff can talk you through proper treatment and dispatch paramedics for you, when necessary.

Wednesday, March 20 – Poisonings span a lifetime
Poison prevention is for everyone—infants to older adults. Most calls to poison centers are about children, but people who are most likely to die from poisons are adults. Adults, please remember to:

  • Take and give medicine safely. Read the label every time and follow the directions.
  • Only give or take medicine with the lights on, and with glasses on if you need them, to ensure that you can see the label.
  • Download our free medicine checklist:
  • Program the poison helpline (1-800-222-1222) into your phone.

Thursday, March 21 – Home, safe home
More than 90 percent of poisonings happen in people’s homes, mainly in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. You can never fully “poison-proof” your home, but you can take the necessary steps to ensure the toxins in your home are stored properly and out of a child’s reach.

  • Keep all medicines, household cleaners and garden chemicals up high where children can’t see or reach them.
  • Never store household and garden chemicals in food containers like cups or bottles.
  • Are your carbon monoxide detectors working?  Test them every six months and put in fresh batteries.
  • Never mix household cleaning products together. Mixing them could create a poisonous gas.
  • Swallowing a button battery can be deadly for a child. Call your local poison center right away if a battery is missing from a toy or other household item.
  • Start an annual “Home Safety Day” in your neighborhood. Go through each room of the home and make sure there are no poisoning dangers. Download a checklist:

Friday, March 22 – Prescription drug abuse
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is calling prescription drug abuse an “epidemic.” Remember to:

  • Get rid of prescription painkillers as soon as you are finished using them. Don’t give a drug seeker the opportunity to find some in your home!
  • If you are currently using prescription painkillers, lock them up where only you can get to them.
  • Be aware of the dangers these drugs can pose. Never change your dose without talking to your doctor first. Also, be sure to follow instructions when taking them; be mindful of dosage, time between taking drugs and maximum dosage per day.
  • Using these drugs without a doctor’s prescription can be deadly, even the first time using them.
  • If you or someone you know is addicted to these drugs, seek help immediately. Talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk of overdose.

About Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center
The Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center is a phone call away, and can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. The center provides a free, 24-hour emergency telephone service for both residents and medical professionals of Maricopa County. For more information, visit

NOTE TO EDITORS: Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center staff and patients are available for interviews during National Poison Prevention Week. To arrange media interviews, please contact Public Relations.

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