Some pills look like candy. And some public health campaigns look like a game.
“Choose Your Poison,” a free iPhone app from the California Poison Control System (CPCS) marks the organization’s 50th year as the statewide provider of free advice – from pharmacists, doctors and nurses – about what to do in cases of poisoning or exposure to toxic substances. (It also marks National Poison Prevention Week, which is this week.)
The game, available in the Apple app store, focuses on the fact that many types of medicines and vitamins look like popular brands of candy. Players choose between two similar-looking groups, dragging the medication to the “skull.” After each guess, the game reveals which pile is breath mints and which is ibuprofen, for example. It’s fun to see how many you can get right, but the real point is to point out that we should all pay attention to how we store medications and other potentially dangerous stuff we keep at home.
Of more than 2 million poisonings reported every year in the U.S., the CPCS estimates more than 90% happen at home, many to children under age 6.
The app also makes it easy to add the U.S. Poison Control Helpline (800-222-1222) to your phone’s contacts, and to follow the CPCS on Twitter. No smart phone? You can play the game online at www.pillsvscandy.org.