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It’s National Preparedness Month! Are you prepared?

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2012 as National Preparedness Month.  I encourage all Americans to recognize the importance of preparedness and observe this month by working together to enhance our national security, resilience, and readiness.”

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The President has officially proclaimed September as National Preparedness month.

With hurricane season and holidays upon us, the AAPCC is encouraging everyone to practice preparedness by programming the Poison Help number into their cell phones and keeping the number handy at home.

Poison centers play a vital role in the safety and welfare of the public by providing expert knowledge and advice to those in poisoning situations. The Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) is available around the clock, every day, including holidays, and is available for emergency and nonemergency situations.  The poison expert will let the caller know if the situation calls for immediate medical attention; in most cases, however, the poison exposure can be treated at home with the guidance of the poison expert.

About 40,000 people die from unintentional poisonings each year. By following simple safety guidelines, the risk of poisoning can be greatly lessened.

Though the role of the poison centers is sometimes viewed as primarily reactionary – an individual calls the help line after a poisoning situation – poison centers actually encourage individuals to call the help line for general information about how to prevent poisonings and prepare for situations where a poisoning may occur.

In addition, the AAPCC and poison centers study trends and investigate possible poison hazards to provide preliminary information to the public when possible. Recently, the AAPCC alerted the public of a carbon monoxide danger associated with power generators being used in areas damaged by storms.

The AAPCC also issued an alert as calls began to pour in to poison centers regarding concentrated laundry detergent packs being mistaken for candy by children and then ingested.

Synthetic drugs became a glaring concern as violent incidents due to exposure to the drugs were splashed across newspapers and primetime newscasts. The AAPCC and poison centers were at the forefront of education and prevention.

By raising awareness of potential poisoning dangers, poison centers can subsequently lessen the potential for harm.

In some cases, before the general public is fully aware of the certain poison concerns, the AAPCC and the 57 poison centers across the United States work together to inform not only the public, but policymakers, company executives and manufacturers of potentially harmful situations or products. This preparation ultimately leads to the dissemination of vital safety information, the prevention of poisoning incidents and, in some cases, the proposal of new laws to protect the public for the long term.

This emphasis on preparedness is what makes poison centers exemplars of National Preparedness Month.

If you want to get prepared, call the Poison Help Line. Get the answers you need now and request educational material as well as magnets and stickers with the Poison Help Line number to place around your home.

Experts are standing by to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Don’t wait for an emergency; call now and learn how to be prepared.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to prevent and treat poison exposures. Poison centers offer free, private, confidential medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We take calls in more than 150 languages and from the hearing impaired.

For questions about poison or if you think someone has been exposed to a poison, call 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center. 

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