Health Check: Poison prevention week

Dr. Jason Hack is an emergency doctor at Rhode Island Hospital.

As a doctor of toxicology, Hack has a special interest in poison prevention.

"In 2008, poisoning became the most common injury-related cause of death and in 2012, which we have the best, most recent numbers, the American Academy of Poison Control Centers received 2.2 million calls," he said.

Most of the calls were due to poisoning in the home, and more than half of them children under the age of 6. The culprits were medications and household cleaning agents.

"They are brightly colored. They smell like flowers or like fruit. They smell good and your children often can't make the distinction between fruit punch and a poisonous compound," Hack said.

Several posters are up in many areas with a national toll-free phone number. The person on the other end of the 24 hours, 7 days a week hotline is a poison expert.

"Many of these things can be managed at home if it's appropriate. Some of them have to be managed in the hospital," Hack said.

Hack has some simple advice, especially for parents with small children.

"We want them to lock it up, behind a padlock or child proof lock in your cabinet or closet. We want to put them up, high on a shelf where young people can't see or access them and we want to give them up. We want people to throw away their unneeded, unwanted or exposed medications," he said.

Some cities and towns in Southern New England collect old medications on a regular basis. If yours doesn't, there's a National Drug Take Back day on April 26.

The toll-free poison control number is 1-800-222-1222.