We outgrow things all the time. Shoes, clothing, roller blading, and unwavering love for the band "'Hanson" are all things we may find we have no use for as we grow and change. There is one thing we will need throughout our lives though: a Poison Control Center able to answer questions and help with concerns 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "Most people assume only small children need the help of the poison control center," says Sherrie Pace of the Utah Poison Control Center. "However, people will find that throughout their lifetime they need quick, expert poison help."
It's true that many of the calls that come into the poison control center do deal with children who have accidentally ingested something they shouldn't have. However, those are not the only calls received. A typical day sees the trained professionals staffing the center answering questions involving patients from the cradle through retirement. "We get calls about teens that have drank several energy drinks and have racing pulses, and calls about exposure to household cleaners and fertilizers," says Pace. "With older patients on several medications we get calls about drug interactions, or dosing problems."
The poison control center offers people free, real time access to experts with years of experience, and a wealth of information on poisons and toxicology at their fingertips. 75% of all incidents coming in to the poison control center can be managed with over the phone instruction, meaning that those calling avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room or the urgent care center. "We also can help people avoid treatments that may make a situation worse," says Pace. "For instance, many people search the internet for answers and find inaccurate information about inducing vomiting when a poison is swallowed. This can be dangerous and cause more problems."
Of course, the poison control center would prefer if poisonings were prevented before they happened. Some of their tips include:
- Keep products in original containers and up and out of reach and sight of small children.
- Take the time to read a product's label and instructions for using it.
- Put on your glasses and turn on the lights when using medicine.
- Protect your skin and eyes when working with potentially dangerous products.
- Be sure to prepare, cook, and store food properly and at safe temperatures.
- Look for potential poison dangers in your home, and remedy them.
Even in the safest of surroundings there may be times that an accidental poisoning occurs. That's when people of any age should call the poison control center for help at 1-800-222-1222. "There are no questions too small or troublesome," says Pace. "We want to help keep members of our community safe."