Poison Prevention Week: The Number You Need in Your Phone

The word “poisoning” might make you think of “CSI” episodes or old cop movies. But actually, most poisonings are accidental, and they’re more common than you might think. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, poison centers receive 10,830 calls every day.

baby with household cleaners
Household cleaners are a common source of poisonings in young children.

UVA’s Blue Ridge Poison Center, which serves a large portion of Virginia, decided to list the 94 calls it got during one 24-hour period. They included:

  • A mother who gave her toddler a dose of liquid antibiotics, left the room and returned to discover he’d drunk the rest of the bottle
  • A school nurse with a 16-year-old student who ingested an entire bottle of hand sanitizer to get drunk
  • The parents of a child who vomited after drinking apple juice that had been sitting out all night. The parents wondered if the child had food poisoning.
  • A college student whose roommate drank five Red Bulls and several cups of coffee to stay up late studying. The roommate was vomiting and had tremors.
  • A man who misread the directions on his prescription medicine. It said, “Take one tablet every four hours for three days.” He had been taking four tablets every three hours.

It’s National Poison Prevention Week.  If nothing else, use this week as a reminder to put the number 1.800.222.1222 by your home phone, on the fridge and in your cell phone. Call that number anytime you suspect exposure to a toxic substance, including:

  • Taking the wrong dose of your own medication
  • Taking someone else’s medication
  • Ingesting or touching household cleaning products

You’ll get a nurse, doctor or other healthcare professional at your local poison center, who will, for free, evaluate the situation and help you care for the person at home or get them to the hospital.

Poison Centers can give advice to healthcare providers treating patients and provide educational materials for teachers.

Get more information about poison prevention and the Blue Ridge Poison Center.

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