Tuesday, September 23, 2014

National Preparedness Month: How Poison Control Can Help

During the month of September we celebrate National Preparedness Month! While this celebration entails being more prepared, with the right tools in place, you can be assured that you will be celebrating when you are prepared for any emergency that comes your way.

Emergency preparedness encompasses four important steps:

·        Get or create a disaster preparedness kit (Check out this kit list from the CDC: http://www.ready.gov/document/family-supply-list)

·        Make a plan so your family knows what to do when disaster strikes (Check out this family communication plan from FEMA: http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/34330)

·        Be informed so you know what to do when disaster strikes your area (Sign up for alerts in your area: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/preparedness/informed/)

·        Get Involved in the community preparedness (FEMA shares ways you can get involved: http://www.fema.gov/volunteer-donate-responsibly)

How can the Poison Control Centers help during disasters? Here’s a list of ways:

§  In the event of a chemical or biological attack. The staff at each poison center has extensive knowledge of healthcare resources and work with hospitals to ensure that patients get the right treatments needed. Experts are able to identify what antidotes can help and provide education to both the public and healthcare professionals.

§  They handle acute and chronic poisonings as well as environmental and occupational exposures. This is an important resource because specialists in poison information are also experts in toxicology.

§  They collect data. The data collection system can assist in detection of diseases and help track individuals who might have been exposed. This information is vital when it comes to issues of a bioterrorist attack.

§  They alleviate fears. As a 24 hour resource, you can contact them at ANYTIME with concerns or issues that you would like more information about.

 The Poison Control Hotline is such an important resource to the community and the best part is it is available 24/7 for FREE! Call 1-800-222-1222 and put your mind at ease when dealing with any natural disaster or emergency. They are here to help!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ebola: What You Need to Know and How the Poison Center Can Help

This year we have seen the largest Ebola breakout in history. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the current outbreak is mainly affecting West Africa and does not pose a risk to the United States at this time.

As stated on their website, the CDC has deployed teams of health experts to West Africa to help with this outbreak. It is important to remember that no confirmed cases of Ebola have been reported in the United States. But the Texas Poison Center Network wants you to know they are here to assist with any questions or concerns regarding Ebola.
Ebola can spread to others after symptoms begin. These symptoms can start anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms of Ebola can include:

  • Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain

If you have any concerns regarding Ebola, please do not hesitate to contact the Poison Control Network at 1-800-222-1222. For all the latest statistics on the Ebola outbreak, please visit here: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/index.html.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Texas Poison Control Network Celebrates 20 Years of Service

The Texas Poison Control Network is celebrating a milestone this year. It has been providing outstanding poison control services for the past 20 years and we could not be more proud!

In 1993 the Texas Legislature established the Texas Poison Control Network which formally began to provide services to the state on September 1, 1994.  Poison center services had previously been provided by individual poison control centers in Galveston and Dallas, while the county hospital’s inpatient pharmacy answered calls in El Paso. 

Establishment of the Texas Poison Control Network ensured that all Texans had access to the highest quality 24-hour toll-free telephone referral and information services. Thanks to these fantastic poison control centers, thousands of lives have been saved and millions of dollars in healthcare costs have been avoided in the process by eliminating unnecessary emergency room visits.

The Texas Poison Control Network is a vital resource to the community and we hope to see these centers provide excellent service to Texans for years to come. Here are some of the many things that poison control centers can help you with- just by dialing 1-800-222-1222!

  • Drug Information and identification (adverse effects,  generic/brand name questions, dosing information, contraindications, drug-drug interactions, medication disposal, etc...)
  • Environmental Information (carbon monoxide, general questions about soil or air contamination,  lead, mercury, mercury cleanup, chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear emergencies, etc...)
  • Medical Information ( poison-related first aid and patient management recommendations, medical toxicology consultations, epidemiological data collection and surveillance, etc...)
  • Poison Information (food poisoning, safe food handling practices, exposures or medication questions or concerns during pregnancy/breastfeeding, plant toxicity, animal bites and stings, safe use and storage of household and  personal hygiene products)
  • Prevention/Safety Information (poison prevention questions, educational presentation requests for the public and healthcare professionals, media consultations, educational materials, pharmaceutical collection events and proper disposal information, etc...)
If you know someone who works for Poison Control, let them know their service is appreciated. Here is a list of the centers celebrating 20 years of excellence service to the State of Texas as the Texas Poison Control Network:

Central Texas PoisonCenter, Baylor Scott & White in Temple

North Texas Poison Center, Parkland Hospital in Dallas

Texas Panhandle PoisonCenter, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in  Amarillo
South Texas Poison Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in San Antonio
Southeast Texas Poison Center, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston
West Texas Regional PoisonCenter, University Medical Center of El Paso in El Paso

Monday, August 18, 2014

What You Need to Know about Brown Recluse Spider Bites

During the summer months you tend to see more spiders. One spider, that we don’t see very often but is a very dangerous spider, is the brown recluse spider also known as the fiddle-back spider. The brown recluse is a poisonous spider that can cause tissue death at the bite site.  Children and adults both can become ill when bitten.    

How to Recognize a Brown Recluse
This type of spider is very unique. While most spiders have eight eyes, a brown recluse only has six. Its coloring consists of a sandy brown with the violin-shaped marking being a little darker than the rest of its body. You will also see many fine, short hairs on its body.

Where Can You Find a Brown Recluse?
These spiders like to build webs in dark places that haven’t been recently disturbed. Here are some examples of places you might find them: rotting bark, attics, basements, closets, behind pictures, shoes, cardboard boxes, garages, etc.

A person might not always be aware that they have been bitten, because the initial bite does not always hurt right away. Here are some symptoms that could occur from a brown recluse bite:

v  Chills

v  Nausea

v  Sweating

v  Fever

v  Rotting of the Skin around the Bite

If you think you or a loved one might have been bitten, please do not hesitate to contact your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for free expert advice, 24 hours a day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Dangers of Using Powdered Caffeine

Powdered caffeine is a new item on the market that can be extremely dangerous. It is important for parents, teachers and consumers to be aware of this product.

Recently, the death of an Ohio teenager prompted the Food and Drug Administration to warn consumers about the dangers of consuming pure powdered caffeine sold online. Even a teaspoon of the powder could be lethal.  Shockingly, one teaspoon is equivalent to roughly 25 cups of coffee.

Since the recent death of an 18-year-old boy, the FDA is now investigating caffeine powder and is considering taking regulatory action.

To keep loved ones safe, please keep this information in mind.

1.    It is unregulated, cheap and easy to buy.is unregulated, unlike caffeine added to soda. Those who drink coffee, tea or soda may be aware of caffeine's less serious effects, like nervousness and tremors, and may not realize that the powdered form is a pure chemical. The difference between a safe amount and a lethal dose of caffeine in these powdered products is very small, according to FDA officials. Symptoms of caffeine overdose or toxicity include rapid or erratic heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea and disorientation. Please share this information with your friends and family. For questions, call the experts at 1-800-222-1222. Caffeine powder is considered a dietary supplement therefore it is not subject to FDA regulations.

2.    It can be lethal even in small doses.

3.    Caffeine overdose symptoms can be very serious. Symptoms can include: rapid or erratic heartbeat, vomiting, confusion, diarrhea, trouble breathing, hallucinations, and seizures.

If you or a loved one has ingested too much of this powdered caffeine or for more information, please contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. We’re here to answer your call 24/7.   

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Case of the Pesky Mosquito

Summertime is upon us- the heat is rising and the mosquitoes are everywhere!  Mosquitoes are known as insects that can bite you, leaving a painful and often itchy swell mark. These tiny little insects have a lot going for them. Not only do they have chemical and visual sensors that help them find their prey, but mosquitoes also have heat sensors. 

With all these sensors, it is not a surprise that people get bitten by mosquitoes more often than not. While most mosquito bites are harmless, in rare cases they can cause a large area to swell significantly, be sore and very red. If you have any questions from a mosquito bite, please call your poison control center for more information at 1-800-222-1222. 

How to prevent mosquito bites

Your best bet in protecting your skin from mosquitoes is using insect repellent. For a list of recommended repellents, please view this link: http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq/repellent.html.
Other ways to avoid mosquito bites include wearing long-sleeved clothing and eliminating any standing or stagnant water around your home. Standing water creates a breeding ground for these pesky insects. Another good tip is limiting your time outdoors in the evening time as that is when they are most prevalent.

Here are some “fun” facts about mosquitoes:

·         Mosquito is Spanish for “little fly”

·         Only female mosquitoes bite

Remember, the Texas Poison Control Network is here to help you! If you find yourself in any possible poisoning situation, or have a question about poison, please do not hesitate to call 1-800-222-1222 for free expert advice, 24 hours a day!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Keep Pool Chemicals Out of Reach and Locked Away

As many people know, in order to help keep pools clean, chemicals are added to the water to kill germs and bacteria. While these chemicals help keep the water healthy for recreational use, they can be extremely dangerous if they are not handled or stored properly away from children.

A recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed almost 5,000 emergency visits in the year 2012 were associated with pool chemical poisonings.  The most common poisonings included inhalation of vapors and fumes.  Other common poisonings include handling pool chemicals without proper use of protective equipment such as gloves and goggles.
Here are some useful tips to makes sure you and your family stay safe this summer and avoid chemical pool injuries.

v  Keep chemicals away from children by storing them up and away from a child’s reach.

v  When handling pool chemicals, dress appropriately by wearing safety goggles and gloves.

v  Make sure you handle in a well-ventilated area so that you do not breathe in any toxic fumes.

v  Follow the directions exactly to minimize accidents or splashing of chemicals.

Remember, if you come in contact with pool chemicals or believe you might have been poisoned, please contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. For more information on pool chemical safety, please visit the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/pools/preventing-pool-chemical-injuries.html.