Poisonings are something we can all take steps to prevent. First and foremost, you can access services provided by the nation’s poison centers on the toll-free help line, 1-800-222-1222.
Every day, the Northern New England Poison Center helps people of all ages in Vermont, from infants to older adults, providing fast, expert advice and assurance.
Here is some important poison prevention information for you and your family.
Within every age group, medications are the most common cause of poisonings. Some medications are harmful if used in the wrong way or by the wrong person. You can help avoid medication poisonings by checking the directions on the label each time you take a medication. If you have questions about your medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, or contact the poison center.
Poison centers get more calls related to acetaminophen than any other medication. Acetaminophen is safe when used in the right amount. It is harmful if you take more than the medication label recommends or take another medication that also includes acetaminophen, such as Nyquil or Percocet. Read the label on your medications to make sure you are not taking acetaminophen in more than one medication.
Poison centers receive many calls about young children getting into single-use packets of laundry detergent. These highly concentrated packets are brightly colored and attractive to young children. Recently, there was a trend of teenagers intentionally eating laundry pods as a dare. Whether accidental or intentional, some children exposed to laundry pods become ill and require medical care. Store laundry packets up high and out of reach of children. Do not leave packets unattended. Children often get a hold of laundry packets from the counter or laundry basket while an adult is not looking.
As spring arrives, the poison center starts to receive more calls about young children eating wild mushrooms, or adults eating poisonous mushrooms thinking they are safe. Mushrooms are plentiful in the Green Mountains and many are safe to eat. Others can be deadly after just a little bite. Keep an eye on young children playing in the yard or the woods, and teach older children to ask before touching or eating mushrooms, plants or berries found outside. Only pick wild mushrooms if you’ve been trained to identify them and are certain you know what they are.
Most poisonings can be safely managed at home with advice from the Northern New England Poison Center. Having the poison center number, 1-800-222-1222, stored in your phone can save you time and money in an emergency.
Gayle Finkelstein is Vermont Poison Prevention Educator with the Northern New England Poison Center in Community Health Improvement at the University of Vermont Medical Center.