March 15-22 is National Poison Prevention Week, a time to raise awareness about the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them.

Gayle Finkelstein is Vermont Poison Prevention Educator with the Northern New England Poison Center in Community Health Improvement at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Gayle Finkelstein, MS, is Poison Prevention Educator with the Northern New England Poison Center.

We urge you to take additional safety precautions in observance of National Poison Prevention Week, which started on Sunday. A poison is anything that can harm someone if it is 1) used in the wrong way, 2) used by the wrong person, or 3) used in the wrong amount. Poisons may harm you when they get in your eyes or on your skin. Other poisons may harm you if you breathe them in or swallow them.

Poisoning is the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Most of these deaths are due to drug and medicine misuse and abuse (Source: Centers for Disease Control).

What about Vermont? The Northern New England Poison Center received more than 7,000 information calls and nearly 5,000 exposure calls from Vermonters in 2014. Many of these calls – 301 to be exact – were animal-related. Don’t forget your pets! Keep them safe.

Want can you do? Start by programming your cell phone and home phone with the poison center phone number. Post the number on your refrigerator and near your home phone. The phone number is 1-800-222-1222. Call 911 if someone is unconscious or has trouble breathing.

Here’s a handy acronym that explains everything the Northern New England Poison Center offers you. We are here to help!

Provides information and answers questions on many topics including medications, household products, chemicals, carbon monoxide, and plants

Offers expert advice for poisoning emergencies

Interpretation service in over 150 languages

Staffed by specially trained nurses, pharmacists, and physicians

On-line chat service

National toll-free number 1-800-222-1222

Confidential calls

Educational materials

Newsletters and fact sheets

TTY service

Education office in each state

Regional poison center serving Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont

The infographic below provides more information to share with loved ones, family, and friends.

Visit the Northern New England Poison Center at www.nnepc.org. Learn how your poison center can help you with information or advice. A call to the hotline is free and available 24/7.

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