Poisonings and Poison Control

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Preventing Accidental Poisonings

Each year thousands of people become injured or ill due to the effects of an unintentional harmful substance exposure. This may occur by direct skin contact, inhalation, absorption or ingestion of the substance into the body. Poison Control receives thousands of calls every year concerning harmful substance exposures. Of these, about 65 percent are from ingestion of toxic substances and 13 percent are from bites, stings and envenomation’s (snake bites). Although these occur in all age groups and socioeconomic strata, children less than five years of age are the most common victims. Adults over 18 years of age are the next highest group of exposures. 

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Nationwide Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222 or go to the American Association of Poison Control Centers website.

The BEFORE, WHILE and AFTER Rule:
  • BEFORE using a cleaning product, read the instructions on the bottle.
  • WHILE using a cleaning product, never leave it out. A child may find it.
  • AFTER using a product, put it back in a locked cabinet. Make sure the container is closed tightly.
Get Help

If you think someone has been poisoned, don’t panic! Most poisonings can be taken care of at home with the help of the poison center experts. Call 1-800-222-1222 right away. Do not wait for the them to look or feel sick. Poison centers take all kinds of calls, even calls that aren’t emergencies. The poison center experts will tell you what to do to help. 

What are some common poisons? Poisonous products that may be found in and around the home:

  • Medicines
  • Vitamins and iron pills
  • Cleaning products
  • Eye drops
  • Laundry products
  • Nail polish products and other cosmetics
  • Batteries
  • Bug and weed killers
  • Cigarettes
  • Mouthwash
  • Alcohol
  • Lighter fluids
  • Plants (indoor and outdoor)
Here are a few tips on keeping yourself safe:

Medicine

  • Read and follow the directions and warnings on the label before taking any medicine, each time you take it. If you have any questions about how to take your medicine, contact your doctor, pharmacist, or poison center.
  • Some medicines just don’t play well with others! They can be dangerous, or not work as well if they are taken with alcohol, other drugs, or certain foods and drinks. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what you should be aware of when you take medicine. Make sure your doctor knows about everything you are taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal remedies.
  • Turn lights on to take medicines so that you can be sure of what you’re taking.
  • Get rid of old and outdated medicines as soon as you don’t need them anymore. Some medications can become dangerous or ineffective over time. Other medicines can be abused by someone looking through your medicine stock. 
  • Never share prescription medicines. Medicines should be taken by the person for whom it was prescribed and for the reason prescribed. 
  • If you have a poisoning emergency call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222
Household and Chemical Products
  • Keep potential poisons in their original containers.
  • DO NOT use food containers such as cups or bottles to store household and chemical products. 
  • Store food and household chemical products in separate areas. Mistaking one for the other could cause a serious poisoning.
  • Read and follow the directions and caution labels on household chemical products before using them.
  • Never mix household chemical products together. Mixing chemicals could cause a poisonous gas.
  • Turn on fans and open windows when using household chemical products.
  • When spraying household chemical products, make sure the spray nozzle is directed away from your face and other people.
  • Wear protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, shoes and gloves, when spraying pesticides and other chemicals. Pesticides can be absorbed through the skin and can be extremely poisonous.
  • Stay away from areas that have recently been sprayed.
  • Don't sniff chemical containers if you don't know what is inside. 
  • Discard old or outdated household chemical products. First aid instructions on product containers may be incorrect or outdated. 
  • If you have a poisoning emergency call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Keep the Poison Help number- 1-800-222-1222- on or near home phones and programmed into cell phones. If you come in contact with something that might be poison, call immediately. 

(Information provided in part courtesy of the American Association of Poison Centers
and City of Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department© 2013)