Washington, DC – The National Safety Council will host a National Poison Prevention Week news conference on behalf of the National Poison Prevention Week Council, Tuesday, March 17, from 8 to 11 a.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event will feature a father whose son died from an unintentional overdose of painkilling medication just one week before his high school graduation. Other speakers will include:
- Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., Administrator, Health Resources & Services Administration
- Kristen Binaso, Senior Director of Corporate Alliances, American Pharmacists Association, on the importance of talking to your pharmacist about how to take, store and dispose of medications properly to prevent accidental poisoning
- Sandy Giffin, President, American Association of Poison Control Centers, on poisoning incidence from the poison center perspective and the future of poison centers
- Alan Korn, Director of Public Policy and General Counsel, Safe Kids Worldwide, on the dangers of carbon monoxide
- Deborah M. Fanning, Vice Chair of Poison Prevention Week Council, Executive Vice President, The Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc.
In addition, the two winners of the 2009 National Poison Prevention Week children’s poster contest will be recognized for their contributions to public education.
National Poison Prevention Week, established in 1961, was designed to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. In that era, children primarily were at risk, typically from ingesting household products like drugs, pesticides and detergents. In recent decades, the introduction of safety interventions like poison prevention campaigns and child-resistant bottle caps have saved thousands of lives, said Kristin Lolmaugh, National Poison Prevention Week Council chair and Senior Program Manager with the National Safety Council.
“In 1959, 503 children under the age of 5 died from poisonings. In 2005, 41 died. While 41 is still too many, look at what we’ve accomplished by working together,” Lolmaugh said.
While childhood poisonings remain an issue, an alarming trend today is the increase in adult poisoning deaths, often due to unintentional overdoses of opioid analgesics, or painkillers, Lolmaugh said. Nationwide, drug overdoses are the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death, after motor vehicle crashes. In 2005, more than 20,000 adults ages 25-64 died of unintentional poisonings.
“While children’s poisonings have declined, poisoning deaths are greatly increasing among adults. Adult poison deaths most frequently involve prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, and alcohol,” Lolmaugh said.
Events like National Poison Prevention Week emphasize the most common poisoning risks for adults and children, and offer educational resources for parents to protect their children and adults to make informed decisions regarding their use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
The National Poison Prevention Week Council includes 33 members representing national organizations and federal agencies with an interest in and commitment to programs aimed at preventing unintentional poisonings. To learn more, visit http://www.poisonprevention.org/about.htm.
The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads, through leadership, research, education and advocacy.