FAIRFIELD, NJ — Next week, the week of March 19-25, was proclaimed as National Poison Prevention Week in Fairfield at the mayor and council meeting on Monday  

Mayor James Gasparini and members of the council encouraged all residents to program 1-800-222-1222, the Poison Help Line, into their home, office, and cell phones. A quick response can make a difference in preventing injury and saving lives, they said.

The public can also contact poison experts by going to www.njpies.org or texting 8002221222@njpies.org. All services are free, confidential, multilingual, and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It was stressed that residents should not rely on Internet information because it may not be accurate.

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“Unintentional poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death in New Jersey,” said Council President Michael McGlynn.

He added that drug overdose deaths, including prescription pain medicine and heroin, remain at epidemic proportions for both New Jersey and the United States and, “according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of drug overdose deaths, more than six out of ten, involve opiods.”

“Every poisoning is preventable,” said McGlynn, who added that the majority of reported poison exposures involve children five years old and younger, but the majority of poisoning deaths occur in adults 20 to 59.

There is a focus on e-cigarette devices, hookah pipes and liquid nicotine. McGlynn said that these devices may contain high doses of nicotine “in enticing colors, aromas, and flavors.” This increases the likelihood that small children and pets will be attracted to them, he said.

New Jersey Poison Information Education System (NJPIES) is a division of the Department of Emergency Medicine of the New Jersey Medical School of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. According to the council, it provides expert advice, drug information, and poison prevention education to NJ residents.

NJPIES is also involved in the state’s efforts in homeland defense, counter-terrorism, emergency preparedness and response, bio surveillance, and surveillance for clusters of poisonings and their sources, such as, products, food and beverage, chemicals in the work place and at home, environmental toxins, drugs and medicine, and animal and insect bites and stings.

McGlynn stated that in 1961, the United States Congress designated the third full week in March to be National Poison Prevention Week, and since then, this week has raised public awareness of the dangers of potentially poisonous medicines, household chemicals, and other substances.

According to the McGlynn, poison control centers will focus public attention on identifying poison hazards at home and learning ways to prevent poisoning.