June 5, 2013
The Poison control number for anywhere in the country: 1-800-222-1222
In 1999, poison control centers in the United States reported approximately 2.2 million poison exposures, 873 of which resulted in death. These cases most often involve young children under the age of six. Children can be very curious and like to taste and sample almost everything they see resulting in this high number of cases.
What is a poison?
It is any substance that can cause injury, illness, or death, especially by chemical means, when inhaled, absorbed, or ingested. Household poisons come in four basic forms: solids, liquids, sprays, and fumes. Paints, plants, cleaning products, and prescription medicines are just a few of the many potentially dangerous sources of poisons.
Warning Signs of Poison Ingestion
Some of the signs that a person may have been poisoned include: abdominal cramps, blue tint to the lips, chest pain, chills, dizziness, diarrhea, sleepiness, headache, seizures, skin rash, peculiar breath odor, irritability, and other unusual behavior.
What to Do if You Suspect Poisoning
Most products post instructions on their labels in case of accidental poisoning. With some products you induce vomiting and with others you keep them from vomiting (to prevent burning of the esophagus as in Drano and other caustic cleaners). Some chemicals require an antidote such as milk. However, do not attempt to treat the person before first calling a poison control center for instructions. These offices are staffed with medical professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. They dispense emergency information and depending upon the situation may advise you to treat the situation at home or may refer you to a hospital or doctor’s office.
Call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. They will ask you certain questions including:
- The name of the product and its ingredients
- Quantity of and what time the product was ingested
- Age and weight of the person exposed to the poison
- Your name and telephone number
Prevention Tips and Suggestions
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Prevention is the key to safety. The following are a few basic guidelines:
- Do not store cleaning or similar solutions in food-type containers.
- Do not mix food and chemical products in the same area.
- Keep children away from areas that have recently been sprayed with insecticides or weed killers.
- Keep medications locked and out of the reach of children.
- Teach children not to eat wild plants or mushrooms growing in the yard.
- Get medical training and advice from professionals. As far as preparation is concerned, the best thing to do is become familiar with first aid procedures. You may want to keep bottles of activated charcoal and syrup of ipecac in your cabinet. Knowing how to use both activated charcoal and ipecac before you need to use them is wise. Use these products as directed.
Both prevention and preparation for emergencies are the best insurance policies that you can carry. Be sure and keep the above number (1-800-222-1222) as well as all other medical information sources handy, preferably by each telephone in your house.
Emergency preparedness relative to poisoning should include gaining knowledge and skills, having medical supplies on hand, and having the national poison control number posted and memorized.
More information can be found at www.poison.org