Poison Prevention Awareness Month – March 2023

Poison Prevention Awareness Month takes place every March and it might be more important than you realize. Poisoning from the Mayo Clinic is defined as an injury or death due to swallowing, inhaling, touching, or injecting various drugs, chemicals, venoms, or gases. It sounds like a distant concept, but the fact of the matter is that most poisonings occur in the home. Smoke inhalation is the most common cause of acute poisonings. Inhalation of carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and other toxic substances make it a silent killer.

History of Poison Prevention Awareness Month

In the early 20th century, very little was known about poisons. There weren’t any poison control centers, comprehensive drug labeling, or oversight of pharmaceutical manufacturing. As a result, the understanding of deaths and health problems associated with toxicology wasn’t well understood. But as medical science improved, so did the knowledge about poison.

A pediatrician at Duke University named Jay Arena, M.D. collected information about toxic hazards in the early 1930s and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was founded at this time. The pediatric practice had begun to recognize childhood poisonings and patient morbidity, and a deeper understanding was needed. Arena gave advice to physicians on poisoning cases and he provided the first reports on the hazards of household products to children.

The first formal poison control center was developed in 1953 by Edward Press, M.D., and Louis Gdalman. It was located in Chicago and it gave people the opportunity to call in for medical advice and collected standard data. They quickly grew after the first one and by 1978 there were 661 centers.

The United States Congress passed a joint resolution on September 26, 1961. The resolution requested that the President proclaim the third week of March National Poison Prevention Week, and JFK proclaimed it so. Since then, it’s gone on to include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), providing valuable information to pet owners about poisonous substances, and it has taken over the entire month of March.

Poison Prevention Awareness Month timeline

Poison Centers are Available All Over

Today there are 55 centers operating in the U.S.

Poison Centers are Swamped

Poison control centers received more than 3.4 million calls, or one call every 8 seconds.

The Proclamation

President JFK proclaims the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week, and in time it becomes Poison Prevention Awareness Month.

Think of the Children

Pediatrician Jay Arena collects information about toxic hazards and the American Academy of Pediatrics was formed.

The Unknown

Not much was known about poison control, comprehensive drug labeling, and oversight of pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Poison Prevention Awareness Month FAQs

Is Poison Prevention Awareness Month global?

International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week was created to address over 1 million deaths globally from the long-term effects.

How can I tell if a person is poisoned?

A poisoned person’s condition may vary from any number attributes and it’s best to call the toll-free Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Why are so many young children affected by poisonings?

Young children are inquisitive and explore the world around them, oftentimes using their mouths to learn about things.

How To Observe Poison Prevention Awareness Month

  1. Learn your poisons

    It’s critical to change the mindset surrounding poisons. Learn what items in your house could be potentially toxic and how to best handle them. Everything from medicines to charcoal lighter and insect sprays can have devastating effects if they aren't handled properly.

  2. Child safety

    If you have children, or if they spend time at your house, make sure that they know about poison safety as well. Children can get into products with dangerous chemicals and it’s important that they are equipped with the proper information. Also, take preventative measures to ensure that your house is safe by child-locking cabinets that have chemicals and medicines.

  3. Pet safety

    We also need to look out for our pets. Since animals don’t have the ability to communicate with us, learn the poisoning symptoms that you need to look out for. Breathing irregularities and sickness, diarrhea, agitation, and heart issues are all possible signs that could require intervention. You know your pets better than anyone, and if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call Animal Poison Control (APC) at (888) 426-4435.

Five Facts About Poison Prevention Awareness Month

  1. Deaths per day

    87 people die every day from unintentional poisoning.

  2. Everything is poisonous

    Almost anything can be poisonous if too much of it is ingested.

  3. The victims

    Children are the major victims of poisoning

  4. Teen danger

    Teens have a high risk of death when using household products to get "high".

Why Poison Prevention Awareness Month Is Important

  1. It’s easy to forget

    When we use our household items, the last thing on our minds is that they could be potentially dangerous. Poison Prevention Awareness Month draws attention to the fact that this carelessness could have disastrous repercussions.

  2. Children

    It’s one thing for adults to be forgetful, but the most at-risk people are children. This month forces us to think more broadly and to take preventative measures to make sure our children are safe.

  3. New information

    Medical science is constantly learning more about poisons and the best way to prevent them. It’s the perfect time to brush up not only on the standard facts, but to identify any new information that has been discovered to better guard against poisonings.

Poison Prevention Awareness Month dates

2022March 1Tuesday
2023March 1Wednesday
2024March 1Friday
2025March 1Saturday
2026March 1Sunday
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