More than 2 million poisonings are reported every year to the 55 poison control centers across the country. The American Association of Poison Control Centers’ (AAPCC) mission is to actively advance the health care role and public health mission of its members through information, advocacy, education and research.
The Tennessee Poison Control Center is located on the campus of Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. This center provides statewide poison emergency information and resources for the public and health care professionals. Poison control centers offer free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Poison Help line 1-800-222-1222 and online at www.PoisonHelp.org.
All calls or inquiries online are answered by medical professionals. Text “POISON” to 797979 to save the poison control contact information in your smartphone.
In Tennessee, poisoning is the number one leading cause of injury death for all residents, surpassing motor vehicle accidents. Anyone can be a poison victim. In 2019 alone, there were 53,590 initial calls to the Tennessee Poison Control Center, with 67% of those phone calls being managed at home or on-site thanks to the Tennessee Poison Control Center.
The Tennessee Poisoning Center reported that cases of unintentional drug overdose and suicide attempts are more likely to occur in adolescents and young adults, and the elderly are at risk for poisoning because of situations such as mixing medications or accidentally taking the wrong dosage.
Research has shown poisonings among children mostly occur between 4-8 p.m. when everyone is busy. The following are the main reasons for poison exposure in children:
• Improper storage.
• Lack of supervision.
• Lookalike products.
• Child’s natural curiosity.
• Suicide in children greater than 7 years old.
The following are parenting tips for poison prevention from the College of Pharmacy University of Tennessee Extension:
• Store all drugs and chemicals out of children’s reach.
• Use safety latches on cabinets.
• Never put chemicals in food containers.
• Keep all products in the original containers.
• Choose products with safety caps.
• Read the product label on how to use and store.
• Never call medicine “candy.”
• Ask for help if you are not sure how to use or store a product.
• Keep separate from each other: household, yard, car products, food, and prescription or over-the-counter medications.
• Know the names of all plants inside and outside your home.
• Call your poison control center if you suspect a poisoning or have questions about poisoning.
• Do not forget about the “poisons” in your diaper bag and/or purse.
• Never mix cleaning products.
• Have the number of your Poison Control Center posted in a visible area.
If poisoning occurs, you should remain calm. If the person is unconscious, having convulsions (seizures) or difficulty breathing, call 911.
Otherwise, call your Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
The Henry County Coordinated School Health wants you to be informed and to stay safe. If you have any questions or comments, contact your school’s nurse or call 644-3916.
KAYLA GLOVER is a registered nurse, the Henry County School System’s family and community coordinator, and nurse at Lakewood School. Her email address is gloverk@ henryk12.net.