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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Mr. Yuk and the Pittsburgh Poison Center at Children's Hospital Protect People of All Ages from Poisonings

March Is National Poison Prevention Month

The average senior citizen takes seven medications in a day, and those medications can be dangerous to little visitors as well as to the people taking them.

This month - which is National Poison Prevention Month - the Pittsburgh Poison Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is warning senior citizens to take simple steps to protect themselves and their young loved ones from accidental poisonings.

"Senior citizens can be at risk for accidental overdoses, drug interactions and adverse drug reactions because of failing eyesight, memory lapses and undiagnosed medical conditions," said Edward P. Krenzelok, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center at Children's. "Kids who are visiting their grandparents or other elderly adults are at risk because the pills may be left within reach and look like candy to a child. And because the child doesn't live in the home, it is less likely to be child-proof."

Nationwide, about 30 children die from accidental poisonings every year and there are approximately 5 million poisonings, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. For senior citizens, medication exposures account for 45 percent of all poisonings and 41 percent of all poison-related deaths occur in people over age 60.

This month, the Pittsburgh Poison Center is releasing a new brochure for senior citizens titled "Poison Prevention for Seniors: Keeping you and your loved ones safe at home." The brochures will be available at all Giant Eagle pharmacies throughout March. The brochures list facts about poisonings, explain why senior citizens are vulnerable and give tips to prevent poisonings. The brochures also explain how senior citizens' homes can be dangerous for children and what steps can be taken to protect kids.

In a poisoning emergency, senior citizens and anyone else can call their local poison center's toll free emergency hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-222-1222. The Pittsburgh Poison Center serves about 5 million people in 44 counties in Pennsylvania west of the Susquehanna River. The Pittsburgh Poison Center responded to nearly 97,000 calls in 2003, an increase of nearly 10,000 over 2002.


  • The busiest time of the day was between 6-7 p.m.
  • Wednesday was the busiest day of the week.
  • July was the busiest month.
  • 92 percent of poisonings occurred at home; 3 percent in the workplace
  • Received calls from every county in Pennsylvania
  • Received calls from every state in the United States and several foreign countries

Pain relievers 11.8 percent
Sedative/hypnotics 4.9 percent
Anti-depressants 4.9 percent
Cough/cold medications 4.1 percent
Topicals 4 percent
Cosmetics 14.4 percent
Cleaning products 10.2 percent
Foreign bodies 4.4 percent
Plants 2.9 percent
Pesticides 2.7 percent

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 19, 2008
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Last Update
February 19, 2008