Poison Control Week began in Cape

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Poison Control Week may now be a nationally recognized event, but it started humbly enough nearly 50 years ago with a Cape Girardeau pharmacist and his mission.

After hearing of a doctor who was unsure how to treat a child that had unintentionally swallowed poison, local pharmacist Homer George decided something must be done, said his son, Harry K. George .

Homer George put together a poison control kit for use on common accidental poisonings, said his son, who operates Broadway Prescription Shop Inc., 710 Broadway.

The elder George began a campaign against accidental poisoning in 1957 and a year later was later able to convince Cape Girardeau's mayor to declare a poison prevention week in the city.

The state of Missouri soon followed suit, becoming the first state to declare such an observance.

In 1959, Rep. Paul C. Jones took the issue to Washington D.C. and, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared the third full week of March as National Poison Prevention Week.

Harry George said he was proud of his father's role in creating the National Poison Prevention Week.

"I'm sure it has saved a bunch of lives," George said.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it has.

"Back in the 1960s, the number of deaths each year from unintentional poisoning was 15 times greater than it is today," commission chairman Hal Stratton said in a release.

Each year, 30 children younger than five years old die from unintentional poisonings, the commission stated.

To help reduce the number, the commission was asking families to do their part in preventing poison-related accidents.

Child-resistant packaging should be used, original labels should be left on products, and all household products and medicines should be locked up or out of reach of young children, the commission stated in a news release.

National Poison Prevention Week, which runs all this week, educates and informs consumers of the dangers of unintentional poisonings.

In the event of an unintentional poisoning, call the poison control center at (800) 222-1222.

kmorrison@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 127

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