Poison Control Centers

Week 33

Poison Control Centers (PCCs) have provided vital health services to the general public and health care professionals for over half a century. This 24-hour emergency and information hotline (1-800-222-1222) provides poison expertise and treatment advice to the general public regardless of their social, economic, health insurance status, or language preference. The hotline is also available to healthcare professionals, emergency responders, and governmental agencies. These services are accessible and available to all communities, in over 150 languages, and via telecommunications devices for the deaf and hearing impaired (TDD).

PCC’s manages more than 2.4 million poison exposures in the U.S. each year and at no direct cost to the patient or the practitioner. Poison Control Centers are staffed by pharmacists, physicians, nurses and poison information providers who are toxicology specialists.

In the world we live in, many products can be poisons. Poison is anything that can harm you if it is used in the wrong way, used by the wrong person, or used in the wrong amount. Most poisonings happen when poisons are swallowed, splashed in the eyes, come in contact with the skin, or are breathed in or inhaled. Poisoning can occur in your home, at school, at work, and the great outdoors.

Some of the more common poisoning risks include, - cleaning products, – medicines, - insect sprays, weed killers, -plant food, – poisons plants in the house and yard, - mushrooms, - animal bites and sting’s - cigarettes and cigarette butts, - carbon monoxide gas (CO) (usually from cars and heating devices), - beauty products, including perfumes, and nail polish removers, - fuels such as gasoline, kerosene, and lighter fluids.

What you can do if you think someone has been poisoned

1. First, keep calm. Help is as near as your phone. Keeping calm will help you understand the advice and help the victim.

2. Check the condition of the victim. Call 911 right away if the person has collapsed or is unconscious, if they show life-threatening signs like having trouble breathing, severe pain in the chest, or experiencing a seizure, or any other concerning signs.

3. Call the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) even if there are no signs of poisoning. Try to identify what poison is involved. If it is a product, bring its container to the phone. A poison expert will answer your call. Be ready to tell the expert the age and weight of the victim, the name of the product, and the amount of product involved, as well as what, if any, treatment was attempted, and what signs of poisoning did you noticed.

The poison expert will give you the advice you need. The Poison Control Center may stay on the phone with you while you get help, or they may call you later to follow up. Most calls can be handled at home but if you need a doctor or ambulance, the poison expert will tell you right away.

Tips to Prevent Poisonings

Buy products that children can’t open easily. Be aware that child-resistant caps are not risk free. Once a child learns how to open the containers with safety caps, they will no longer keep a child safe.

Store all commercial products in their original containers and well out of reach of little hands. Keep medicines, cleansers, and other poisonous products out of sight; keep them in cabinets that are locked or in cabinets that children can’t open.

Be careful when using medicines, cleansers, and other poisons. With children, poisonings can happen in just a few seconds. Don’t leave containers open when you answer the phone or doorbell; replace the cap, or take the product with you.

Avoid taking medicines in front of children because they often copy adults. Also, and do not refer to medicines as “candy.”

Never take medicines in the dark, and be careful when taking more than one medicine. Read the labels carefully to avoid an overdose. When taking more than one medicine at a time, check labels and with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to take them together.

Identify poisonous plants in your house and yard and place them out of reach of children or remove them all together.

To be alerted when carbon monoxide levels are too high, you should install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home.

Poison and children.

Accidental death from eating or drinking dangerous household substances happens mostly to children. Over 50% of all calls receive at the Poison Control Centers are associated with children five years old and younger. The leading causes of poison episodes in Idaho children are analgesics (pain killers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen); personal care products; household cleaning and automotive products; foreign bodies (including magnets); and topical preparations. Most poisonings exposures occur in a child’s own home.

Remember, though, poisoning does not happen only to children. It can happen to anyone, at any time and in any place. Poisoning is much more common than most people think.

Finally, put the national Poison Control Center number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone, and save it on your cell phone. Calls are free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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