Poison Control Center: 800-222-1222

7 04 2010

(Mo Kamischke is a PKIDs staff member and the go-to person when we other moms have mom issues.)

1-800-222-1222. This is a phone number you’ll want to place around the house and in your mobile phone. It’s the national toll free number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

I consider myself a good mom, but I have called the poison control hotline three times.

The first time was when I found one of my daughters with bathroom foam cleaner on her lips. I was surprised to learn that it was not particularly toxic, but the poison expert assisting me on the phone warned me that the toilet bowl cleaner was a different story and very dangerous. We replaced the locks that we’d removed from the cupboards.

The next time I made the call was a glorious spring day when my toddler and I were gardening in the front yard. She picked up a few berries from beneath a tree and quietly popped them into her mouth. I was immediately on my cellphone to the Poison Control Center, but they needed the Latin name for the tree.

I rushed to the neighborhood garden center and pushed past the long line with a twig and a couple of berries in hand, demanding immediate identification of my “poisonous” tree! People were yelling at me to go to the back of the line, while I waved flora around and loudly explained the whole poisonous thing.

Two botanists, a couple of reference books, and a call to the poison experts, and the emergency was over.  It was not a poisonous berry.

The third time, we were packing for a short trip and I put my medication into another, smaller prescription bottle. So now, the medicine inside the bottle did not match its label. My husband ended up giving my oldest daughter one of my pills rather than her allergy pill, which just happened to resemble my pill. Hello poison control. We lucked out on this one as well, and learned another lesson.

It happens to the best of us.

We have to think like a kid, and be sure that all prescriptions, OTC drugs, and vitamins that look like tasty candy are hidden from view and properly stored.

We need to look around the property—inside and out—and ensure that potential toxins like pesticides, cleaning solutions, car products and DIY home project supplies are properly stored out of reach of little hands, preferably behind locked doors.

We should talk to our children. Teach them “STOP!  Ask First!,” and view this important kid-friendly music video with our youngsters.

Even while adhering to the strictest precautions, it’s easy to be distracted and have our young child touch, smell, eat, or drink something that might result in accidental poisoning. We don’t want to wait for symptoms to occur.  We must call the hotline right away.

Children under the age of six have the largest number of events, and yet a comparatively low number of fatalities.  This is likely due to parent and Poison Control Center intervention.

According to the Poison Control Center, the most common poisons for children between the ages of eight months and six years of age include:

  • Cosmetics such as perfume or nail polish, and personal care products such as deodorant and soap.
  • Cleaning products (for example, laundry detergent and floor cleaners).
  • Pain medicines (analgesics) such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Foreign bodies and toys including silica gel packages to remove moisture in packaging and glow products.
  • Topical preparations such as diaper rash products, hydrogen peroxide, acne preparations, or calamine lotion.

The most toxic substances lying around property include:

  • Antifreeze and windshield washer products
  • Some medicines
  • Corrosive cleaners like drain openers, oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and rust removers
  • Fuels such as kerosene, lamp oil, gasoline, and tiki-torch oil
  • Pesticides

And don’t forget about our teenagers. Intentional or unintentional poisoning may occur due to the improper use of medications, inhalants, carbon monoxide or alcohol. They actually experience much higher fatalities than children under the age of twelve.

Check out the extensive statistics associated with exposure to various toxins.

Whatever we do, we mustn’t wait until symptoms occur. If we believe our young child or teen may have been poisoned, we should pick up the phone and call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. All information is confidential and free of charge. They’re there, 24/7, 365 days of the year, and they know just what to do.

Oh, and if you have adults in your home, the hotline works for them, as well!




2 responses

9 04 2010
Mike Wahl

Mo, thanks for the terrific blog on poison center services and the steps to take to make homes happier and healthier. Great stories and tips! We have posted the link to this article on our FB Fan page at http://www.facebook.com/illinoispoisoncenter

30 04 2010

Mike, So glad you found the post helpful. As parents it’s so easy to make unintentional mistakes that might put our kids at risk. Best to take all the precautions that you can, but when something goes wrong, it’s great to know the Poison Control Center is there!

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