SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) received more than 53,000 calls in 2003 and more than 60 percent involved children under age 6. The potential for child poisonings is a good reason the theme for this year's National Poison Control Week, from March 21-27, is "Children Act Fast, So Do Poisons."

The UPCC is joining with 63 other poison control centers nationwide to alert parents and others to the potential for child poisonings. Nationwide, there are 28 deaths and more than 1.2 million incidents annually in which children under age 5 are exposed to possible poisons, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

The CPSC launched National Poison Prevention Week with a news conference today.

The Utah Poison Control Center is a 24-hour resource for poison information, clinical toxicology consultation, and poison prevention education. If you or someone you know has come in contact with a potential poison, call the nationwide toll-free hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Dialing this number from anywhere in Utah will put you in immediate contact with the Utah Poison Control Center.

Contacting the UPCC is free and confidential. You will be automatically connected to specially trained pharmacists and nurses who will provide immediate treatment advice for all kinds of poison emergencies and answer questions about medicines, household products, and other potentially dangerous substances. The Utah Poison Control Center is accessible to those who are hearing impaired or who do not speak English as their primary language.

Utahns also can find information at the UPCC's Web site: The Web site provides additional information about the Utah Poison Control Center, poison prevention education, statistics, and links to many other Web sites.

"Information is critical for preventing poisonings and for knowing what to do when one occurs," said Barbara Insley-Crouch, Pharm.D., M.S.P.H., associate professor of pharmacy practice at the U College of Pharmacy and UPCC director. "Our Web site provides one more tool to help parents keep their children from potential poisonings."

However, if a potential poison exposure occurs, call the UPCC immediately.

The UPCC, which is part of the College of Pharmacy, has an active community outreach program. In 2003, representatives of the Utah Poison Control Center provided 118 community presentations and distributed more than 200,000 poison prevention education materials in all 12 Utah public health districts. All materials bear the poison center toll-free number, so people know where to call in a poison emergency.

The UPCC urges parents to remember these basic poison prevention tips:

  • Use child-resistant packing properly by closing the container after each use.
  • Call UPCC immediately in case of poisoning.
  • When hazardous products are in use, never let young children out of sight.
  • Keep potentially poisonous items in their original containers.
  • Leave original labels on items and always read the label before using.
  • Don't put candles or lamps containing oil where children might reach them.
  • Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine.
  • Check the dosage with each use of medication.
  • Do not take medicine in front of children.
  • Always refer to medicine as medicine, not candy.
  • Clean your medicine cabinet periodically, safely disposing of unneeded and   outdated medicines.

For more information, call The Utah Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.