The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) will launch Illinois Poison Prevention Month (IPPM) March 1 with more than 1,000 free, public education events scheduled this month. The nation’s oldest poison center, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, uses the signature month of March to further spread the message of poison prevention to families and communities across Illinois.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declared March 2013 as Illinois Poison Prevention Month and encourages all citizens to learn more about the IPC’s poison prevention programs. Other local governments joined Quinn in recognizing the IPC as a mainstay of the State of Illinois’ emergency medical care system and its contributions to local and national poison treatment and prevention.
“Poison prevention education is vital to the public’s safety,” said IPC Medical Director Dr. Michael Wahl. “Because children are one of our most vulnerable populations for poisonings, it is crucial that we raise the level of awareness among parents and other caregivers.”
In 2012, the IPC handled nearly 82,000 poison-related calls, with close to 49 percent of cases involving children five years of age and under. Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related hospitalization and death for children ages 18-36 months, and is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related adult deaths in the U.S., surpassing firearms and motor vehicle accidents as causes.
“All of our children deserve safe homes, schools, and places to play. Illinois Poison Prevention Month allows this to happen by educating the children, their families, and their schools about poison safety,” said Centegra Hospital-Woodstock nurse Melissa Nolan, RN, BSN.
IPC staff and volunteers will distribute more than 100,000 educational packets to Illinoisans to help create safer home environments and create awareness about the free, confidential expert hotline service for children and adults in the month of March. Additionally, pharmacy students from Chicago State University, Rosalind Franklin University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and University of Illinois-Chicago as well as many other hospitals, public health departments and individual volunteer educators have partnered with the IPC to conduct outreach programs on poison prevention for elementary and middle school students throughout the state in March. The IPC encourages residents to also take advantage of videos, activity sheets and other education materials available on the IPC’s website.
“We want parents and caregivers to know the Illinois Poison Center is a wonderful resource for information on potential poisons and poison prevention,” said Amy Hill, Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Chicago at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, a volunteer Urban Pediatric Satellite of the IPC.
If you or some you know has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance, please call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.