Hopkins County Commissioners Court today issued a resolution proclaiming March 15-21 as "Poison Prevention Week" in Hopkins County.
County Extension agents and firefighters were on hand for the reading of the proclamation designed to alert people to the dangers of misusing medicines and household products and to promote effective safeguards against accidental poisonings among young children.
Johanna Hicks, Hopkins County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences, said poison prevention is one of the many issues her agency tackles every year.
"We are very interested in keeping our children safe from accidental poisoning," she said. "We need to make sure we keep our homes safe by keeping our cabinets locked and keeping medicine out of reach of children."
Hicks also talked about a "Lookalikes" program she presents at area schools and brought along a basket of "lookalike" products that could lead children to accidentally ingest harmful items.
Red Hot candies, she pointed out, look a lot like Sudafed tablets. Shredded beef jerky is sometimes packaged in round containers similar to chewing tobacco cans. Hard candies and cough drops can look very similar.
"A small child could very easily mistake cough drops for candy, because they taste good," Hicks said. "If they ingest too many, it could make them very ill."
She even recounted one 4-H member who confused ChapStick with a glue stick.
"You need to keep household chemicals separate from food items, and you need to keep medicines separate from household cleaners," Hicks said.
Extension Agriculture agent Larry Spradlin also noted that his office teaches farmers and ranchers, as well as home gardeners, to use and store herbicides, insecticides and pesticides properly.
"We've always taught that ... you need to keep them put up and protected," Spradlin said.
Anyone dealing with an accidental poisoning can call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
"They can call that number and explain to the person on the phone what has happened, and they can walk you through the procedures and help that individual," Hicks said.
Jared Smith with the Hopkins County Fire Department also noted that emergency responders in the county are trained to deal with poisoning calls.
"If you forget the (poison control center) number, you can always call 911, and they'll get you to the appropriate facilities and get the first responders en route, as well," Smith said.
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