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How to Know If and When You Should Call Poison Control

March 13, 2018

poison-control.jpgPoison Control Center researchers remind us that kids under the age of 6 account for half of all poison exposures. The most recent statistics also show 92 percent of poisoning deaths occur among people over the age of 20. That’s why National Poison Prevention Week is recognized annually during the third week of March by poison control centers around the country.

According to the researchers at Poison Help the top five causes of poisonings include:

  • Painkillers
  • Cosmetics or personal products
  • Foreign bodies, toys, or other objects
  • Sedatives, hypnotics, and antipsychotic medicines
  • Household cleaning products

These are not in order. They represent the top five causes. It’s also important to remember that an accidental poisoning can happen anywhere and at anytime, so it’s important to remain vigilant—especially around children.

To get a better understanding of when you might be in a situation that requires a poison control expert, here’s a list of do’s and don'ts from poisonhelp.gov.

Don’t Hesitate to Call Poison Control

Do not wait for signs of poisoning before calling Poison Help (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison control center.

If your child swallows, inhales, or gets something on their skin that is considered deadly, don’t hesitate to call. Or if you think they may have gotten into something or put something in their mouth that they shouldn’t have, it’s better to be safe. It could be things like:

  • Wild Mushrooms
  • Mouthwash
  • Kitchen, Bathroom, or Oven Cleaners
  • Medicines
  • Insecticides

But keep this in mind before calling poison control: If the person is not breathing, call 911.

What to do While Calling Poison Control

While you’re calling the poison control center, you may have to multi-task. Things you may need to do while calling include:

  • If the person inhaled poison, get him or her fresh air right away.
  • If the person has poison on the skin, take off any clothing the poison touched.
  • Rinse skin with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If the person has poison in the eyes, rinse eyes with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Do not use activated charcoal when you think someone may have been poisoned.

Activated charcoal only works on certain poisons and is difficult to use. Your poison control center will decide if the situation calls for it, or if a hospital should be called to advise.

What to Do When Poison Control Answers

Poison control experts understand that you may be unnerved when they answer your call. But it’s important to try to remember a couple of things to get your child the help they need as fast as possible. They include:

  • Staying calm. Not all medicines, chemicals, or household products are poisonous. Not all contact with poison results in poisoning.
  • Make sure to have the container of the product you think caused the poisoning nearby. The label has important information.

What to Tell Poison Control Expert

Be ready (if you can) to tell the expert on the phone:

  • The exposed person’s age and weight
  • Known health conditions or problems
  • The product involved
  • How the product contacted the person (for example, by mouth, by inhaling, through the skin, or through the eyes)
  • How long ago the poison contacted the person
  • What first aid has already been given
  • Whether the person has vomited
  • Your exact location and how long it would take you to get to a hospital

Poison Control Handles Many Emergencies

Poison control center experts can also handle other emergencies like:

  • Snake bites
  • Spider bites
  • Insect stings
  • Button battery ingestions
  • Food poisoning.

If your situation calls for immediate expert advice call for help.

Preventing accidental poisonings is just one of the long list of things you must worry about to keep your children safe. Make sure your home is child-proofed by getting down on your hands and knees. Crawl around your home to see it from your child’s view. It is easier to pick out potential hazards this way.

You can also download our guide: “From Crib to College: Caring for Your Little Ones.” In it, you’ll find tips on everything from prescriptions to how to help your child overcome anxiety at the doctor’s office.

photo credit: yourbestdigs Cleaning supplies on white background with green rag via photopin (license)