National Poison Prevention Week is celebrated March 21st-27th.  This week is used to draw attention to poison control centers and the Poison Help Hotline (1-800-222-1222).  While we hope this phone number is never needed, storing this nationwide phone number in your phone or a prominent location in your home could help save a life in the future. 

Poisoning is an issue that unfortunately affects every age group.  While almost half of all poison emergency calls involve children under age six, it is not uncommon to receive calls from adults – especially seniors according to  Frequently we think of poisoning as something we ingest, but there are a variety of ways besides ingesting that a person can experience poisoning, including breathing in a toxin, splashing in the eyes or on the skin, and through a bite or sting.  

Due to COVID-19, many homes have increased the number of common household items that contribute to the poisoning of adults and children.   In order to keep the virus out of our homes, we are using more disinfecting wipes, cleaning supplies, and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  These items are often left within reach of small children as adults are trying to keep everyone safe and clean, giving young children the opportunity to explore items they have previously not had access to leading to more poisoning concerns.  Other items that frequently cause poisoning:

1)      Prescription medicine

2)      Pain reliever both over the counter and prescription

3)      Alcohol

4)      Pesticides

5)      Antihistamines

6)      Vitamins

7)      Foreign Bodies/Toys (glow sticks, silica gel)

8)      Batteries

9)      Antidepressants

10)   Fumes/Gases/Vapors

Although most poisonings are accidental, we can take extra precautions to keep our families safe at home.   The National Capital Poison Center provides the following prevention guidance for children, adults, and seniors. 

Preventing serious poisonings in children:

– Read the label before you give medicine to a child.  Use the right dosing cup, measuring spoon or syringe.  Put the cap back on tightly.

– Lock medicines and household products up high, where children can’t see or reach them.  Child-resistant closures are not child-proof!

– Keep button batteries where children can’t reach them.

– Store medicines and products in their original containers.

– Watch children carefully outdoors.  Some plants and wild mushrooms are poisonous.

– Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms in the hallway near every sleeping area in your home.

Preventing serious poisonings in adults and seniors:

– Always read the label and follow the directions.

– Take only your own medicine.  Take the right amount at the right time.

– Never mix cleaning products.  Poisonous gases, explosions, burns, or fires may result.

– Keep household products away from food and medicine so they do not mix.

– Store products in original containers.

– Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms in the hallway near every sleeping area in your home.

– Never burn charcoal or use gas-powered tools or engines indoors.

– Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even if the garage door is open.

If you need to call the Indiana Poison Center, they will provide helpful resources to guide you in the next steps on how to treat the person suffering possible poisoning symptoms.  When calling the Indiana Poison Center, you will be met with: 

1)      Immediate advice from experts.

2)      Money and time-saving care.

3)      A specialist that will help you decide if you need to go to a hospital or if the poisoning can be handled at home (most poisonings can be handled at home with help from the poison center.)

4)      A specialist will call ahead if you do need to go to a hospital, so ER staff are ready if you need treatment. 

Remember calling the Poison Center will not delay your treatment.  They are prepared to help you over the phone. 

While we hope you never need to use this information, we want you to be prepared to both prevent and attend to any poisoning situations that might arise. 

Remember, keep dangerous items out of the reach of children. 

Put these items away in a safe and secure location to help keep your family and friends safe.   If an emergency arises, call the Poison Center hotline at 1-800-222-1222.