Beware Garage Sale Poisonings

These poor bargain shoppers have no idea the dangers that await them
Summer brings many perils: stray fireworks, chafing, and--apparently--accidental overdoses from stuff found at garage sales. So says the Washington Poison Center in a release sent out yesterday. It says that if you're looking to hold a garage or estate sale, you should put away your toxic chemicals and check all purses, pockets, drawers, etc. for potentially dangerous medications and such.

The release notes that overdoses and poisonings kill more people in Washington state each year than do car crashes--a figure that was regularly cited during legislative hearings on the inexplicably failed overdose prevention bill. While the hearings did cover garage bands, stolen computers in garages, and, of course, Desperate Housewives--all thanks to the always entertaining Pam Roach--there was no talk of garage sales. Perhaps our legislators are missing out on the real menace.

Release after the jump.

Garage Sale Poisonings

During the summer months in Washington State it is hard to miss the garage/ yard/ estate sale signs. One man's junk is another man's treasure, especially for bargain hunters. Some people are looking for a different kind of bargain than the seller may think. Poisons, especially medications, may be lurking among the items being sold, especially at estate sales.

The Washington Poison Center (WAPC) recorded more than 76,000 cases of humans and animals exposed to toxic substances in 2008. The most common calls - accounting for over half of those placed to the center's 24-hour hotline - were about prescription and over-the-counter substances.

According to the State Department of Health, poisonings and drug overdoses are the leading causes of unintentional injury-related deaths, surpassing motor vehicle crashes. "Although these deaths are often from people controlling pain with opioid drugs, such as methadone or oxycodone, there are a number of deaths due to drug abuse." said Dr. William Hurley, Medical Director of the Washington Poison Center.

Before hosting an estate sale where buyers enter the home or a garage sale, owners should always thoroughly check all items that could easily contain medications, such as purses, pants pockets, briefcases, luggage and other containers. Dispose of unwanted medications at an Unwanted Medication Return Program location. Visit for a link to pharmacy locations that accept unwanted medications.

Call 1-800-222-1222 if a poisoning or medication misuse occurs for free, expert treatment advice.

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