Poison Prevention Tips for Child Safety

Poison HelpNational Poison Prevention Week
March 15 – 21

In support of National Poison Prevention Week, March 15-21, the Minnesota Poison Control System and Safe Kids Minnesota are offering simple suggestions to keep children safe. The organizations emphasize that poisonings can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone.

The Poison Center states that about 50 percent of poisonings occur in children under the age of six and 94% of poisonings occur in the home. Recent research from Safe Kids Worldwide found that only 4% of parents expressed concerns about poisoning compared to other injury hazards in the home. In another Safe Kids report, 77% of children’s poison-related emergency room visits were related to exposure to medications belonging to a parent or grandparent.

To prevent these incidents, the Poison Center and Safe Kids Minnesota offer these important tips for families:

  • Program the nationwide Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) into your cell or home phones.
  • Keep medicines and household products in their original containers.
  • Keep all medicines and household products up high and out of sight or locked up. If visitors are expected in your home, make sure suitcases and purses are stored out of children’s reach; remind visitors to take responsibility for their own medications.
  • Take the time to read and follow the label before taking or giving medicine.

Key Facts About the Minnesota Poison Control System

Anytime, anywhere, anyone can call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Anytime: The Poison Center Emergency Call Center is available 24/7/365. It’s free and confidential.

Anywhere: In 2014, the Poison Center managed 48,446 calls statewide from homes, schools, workplaces, and health care facilities statewide.

Anyone can call for help managing poison emergencies including; parents, caregivers, community members, emergency medical personnel, nurses, and physicians.

The Poison Center saves lives and money throughout Minnesota. Every dollar spent on Poison Center services saves over $13 in unnecessary medical costs. Ninety-one percent of exposures in the home are safely managed at home with expert consultation.

In 2014, Poison Center services saved Minnesotans $35 million in health care and lost productivity costs and prevented 27,000 unnecessary Emergency Department visits.

Visit www.mnpoison.org or www.safekids.org/medicinesafety for more prevention tips, educational resources, and downloadable materials. Follow The Poison Center on Twitter @mnpoisoncenter or on Facebook.

The Minnesota Poison Control System is located at Hennepin County Medical Center. The Poison Center is designated by the Minnesota Department of Health to provide poison information and consultative services to the entire State of Minnesota.

Safe Kids Minnesota works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Safe Kids Minnesota is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Minnesota was founded in 1988 and is led by the Minnesota Safety Council. For more information, visit safekids.org   or minnesotasafetycouncil.org/safekids.

Let’s talk “turkey” safety

71554075Thanksgiving celebrations include large meals with family. Safe food handling in the kitchen is a key part to preventing food poisoning mishaps. To keep your friends and family safe during this holiday, the Minnesota Poison Control System at Hennepin County Medical Center has a few suggestions. Continue reading “Let’s talk “turkey” safety”

Glow sticks: safe to wear – but not to eat!

177682286Glow sticks, bracelets, and necklaces have become part of the Halloween experience. These toys are cheap, portable, and emit a colorful glow making them perfect to increase visibility of children while trick or treating.   

A glow stick consists of a small, fragile plastic or  glass vial containing a chemical activator housed inside a larger plastic vial containing the dye solution.  When the inactivated glow stick is bent, the glass vial breaks allowing the previously separated chemicals to mix.  The resulting chemical reaction causes a non-heat generating light emission.  While these chemicals are not very poisonous, the chemicals can irritate the skin and eyes.  If swallowed, the chemicals can cause a burning feeling.

If a child inadvertently breaks or chews through a glow stick or there are other questions regarding potential poisoning, call the Minnesota Poison Control System at 1-800-222-1222 for treatment recommendations.   Information about the Minnesota Poison Control System can be found at www.mnpoison.org.

Poison Help
The Minnesota Poison Control System is a cooperative effort between the Minnesota Department of Health and Hennepin Regional Poison Center.   Hennepin Regional Poison Center is designated by the Minnesota Department of Health to provide poison information and consultative services to the entire State of Minnesota.


Hennepin Regional Poison Center celebrates 40 years of caring for poison emergencies

Name your poison — Hennepin Regional Poison Center can help

Exposure to carbon monoxide, medications, plants and household cleaners are just a few of the reasons people call Hennepin Regional Poison Center (HRPC) for help. Since 1972 it’s been one of the state’s most valuable resources, responsible for saving thousands of lives. Today the Poison Center continues to provide an essential resource for patients, providers and anyone in need of information about poison.

Alice Lange "Poison Alice" answering phone calls in 1972.

On February 7, 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed the third week of March to be National Poison Prevention Week. Ten years later Hennepin Regional Poison Center, located in Hennepin County Medical Center, began caring for poison emergencies in the state of Minnesota – thanks to Alice Lange (a.k.a. Poison Alice), who pioneered HRPC with a telephone and index cards. During her first month on duty she handled 70 calls. Today, 40 years later, the Hennepin Regional Poison Center responds to an average of 4,600 calls monthly.

“Back in 1972 some of the typical calls were similar to today – kids eating iron tablets, or someone accidentally splashing cleaning solution in his or her eyes,” explains Jon Cole, MD, Medical Director of HRPC. “As new chemicals, interactions and trends in usage are being thought of everyday, there’s never a dull moment in our work. And unfortunately, in addition to accidental exposures, intentional exposure to chemicals like methamphetamine and bath salts is increasing. Last year 1,963 of the calls we received were related to people purposefully exposing themselves to a chemical to obtain a high.”

In 2011, the Hennepin Regional Poison Center responded to 55,205 emergency calls from every county in Minnesota. Approximately 92 percent of the time when the Hennepin Regional Poison Center is contacted for a poison emergency, they are able to provide instruction for care in the home, which avoids an unnecessary visit to the emergency department. In 2011, this saved the general healthcare system in Minnesota an estimated 26 million dollars.

The Hennepin Regional Poison Center is free and confidential, and staffed by specially trained pharmacists who are available 24/7, 365 days a year.  Just call 1-800-222-1222 for any poison emergency or go to www.mnpoison.org for more information about the Hennepin Regional Poison Center.

Poison Center names new Medical Director

Dr. Jon Cole

The Hennepin Regional Poison Center welcomes Dr. Jon Cole to its staff.  In addition to his new position as a staff physician in HCMC’s Emergency Department, Dr. Cole has accepted the position of Medical Director in the Poison Center. Dr. Cole assumes this role from former Medical Director Dr. Dave Roberts, who has served since 2004 and will be reducing his hours in anticipation of retirement.

Dr. Cole completed his emergency medicine residency at HCMC and just completed a two year toxicology fellowship at Regions Hospital and Hennepin Regional Poison Center.

Hennepin Regional Poison Center (HRPC) acts as the Minnesota Poison Control System at Hennepin County Medical Center.  Pharmacists are available to answer any poison-related question 24 hours a day.

Hennepin Regional Poison Center recommends new Poison Help app

The Hennepin Regional Poison Center Recommends the New Smartphone “Poison Help” App

The newly released “Poison Help” iPhone app from the American Association of Poison Control Centers provides Minnesotans with easy access to the Hennepin Regional Poison Center when faced with a poisoning emergency. Users also receive tips on how to prevent poisonings.

It will help users get in touch with the expert nurses, pharmacists, or doctors at their poison center who can help them with a poisoning emergency or question.

Use the “Poison Help” app to contact poison center experts immediately, because in a poisoning emergency, there’s no time to waste. The iPhone app is available now at www.mnpoison.org or search “Poison Help” through your app marketplace.  This app will be available for Blackberries, Droids and the Windows 7 platform in the coming months.

If you have questions about poisons, or you believe you’ve been exposed to something that could be bad for you, call the Hennepin Regional Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 or just touch the Poison Help icon on your newly downloaded app.