If you’re with a child who just managed to drink an entire bottle of shampoo, would you know what to do? This is National Poisoning Prevention Week. Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and the education coordinator at the Iowa Poison Control Center, says everyone should have the toll-free phone number programmed into their smart phone.
“There’s an easy way you can do it,” Noble says. “Text the word ‘poison’ to the number 797979, that will send you a text message back and then that can help add that phone number into your contacts.”
If you have the number already at your fingertips, it will save precious seconds and minutes should you ever need to dial it. The hotline is 800-222-1222. “People don’t think they’re ever going to need the poison center and then when something happens and they need to call us, they’re scrambling for how to find the phone number,” Noble says. “We hear a lot of times from our callers that they had to Google the number and look it up.”
The Sioux City-based poison center is staffed ’round-the-clock and gets up to 50-thousand calls a year. Many of the calls that come in about children involve their exposure to cosmetics or personal care items, things that you may use every day that usually aren’t locked up.
“It’s the toothpaste, the deodorant, the shampoo, the hair spray, the lotion,” Noble says. “The good thing about those types of things, they tend to be lower in toxicity. Most of the time, we can just give some advice to the caller and treat those over the phone and have them stay at home without having to go to the hospital or rush to the doctor’s office.”
Almost as many calls come in about household cleansers, ranging from bleach to laundry pods, and those items can be much more toxic. About six in ten calls involve pharmaceuticals which Noble says is a reminder to keep medicines out of the reach of kids, while adults need to read the labels and make sure what they’re taking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poisoning is the top cause of injury death in the United States.