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COLUMBIA - Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related death in the U.S. Every year, the National Poisoning Prevention Council (a group of representatives from government and nonprofit organizations) sponsor National Poison Prevention Week the third week of March.

In 2015, America’s 55 poison centers received more than 2.8 million calls. Of those, about 2.2 million were about people coming into contact with dangerous or potentially dangerous substances.

When I was a child, we had the Mr. Yuck stickers on anything that was potentially hazardous to us. I still remember seeing that green sticker on bottles in the cabinets. These days with items like the little detergent pods that resemble candy and cleaning liquids that smell sweet, I can see how many children might not realize that they are dangerous. But it's more than just that.

The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases (aka food poisoning). America’s poison centers play an important role in helping to prevent food poisoning by promoting safe food preparation and storage strategies, as well as assisting callers who suspect they are at risk of developing foodborne illness or are exhibiting symptoms of food poisoning.

What causes food poisoning? Infectious organisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning. Food contamination can occur during the processing or production of a food item as well as the food being incorrectly handled or cooked.

The most common symptoms of food poisoning include upset stomach, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may differ depending on the causative agent. Severe cases of food poisoning can cause long-term health problems or death.

There is a government webpage that current recalls.

When protecting your family and home from non-food related poisons, it's important to think about safe storage habits.

Try to keep items that could be dangerous to children stored up, away and out of sight (ideally in a locked container).

The American Association of Poison Control Centers maintains a list of potentially hazardous items and a safe-home checklist.

So this week, take a look around your home and office and see where you might see improvements to your poison-safe environment. 

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