Friday, January 23, 2015

E-Cigarettes and Children: A Dangerous Combination

A while back, we ran a blog on the dangers of e-cigarettes, but with this issue being a very hot topic in the news currently, we felt it was important to address the issues regarding liquid nicotine. This past December, a one-year-old in New York died after swallowing liquid nicotine which has lawmakers now pushing for stricter regulation on e-cigarettes and how they are made.

E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are designed to look like real cigarettes except they contain a battery, a heating element and liquid nicotine. These products were initially marketed as a safer alternative to smoking actual cigarettes. But they can be just as dangerous, if not more, if the liquid nicotine is swallowed.  
Nicotine is a poisonous chemical that can be found in the tobacco plant. It causes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, shakiness, elevated heart rate, and sweating. Nicotine poisoning can even cause death. If a child were to ingest this liquid nicotine, even in very small quantities, it could potentially cause seizures and even death.  This product is very dangerous for children.

Even more alarming, a recent article on NPR states that the vapor produced by e-cigarettes can contain high concentrations of formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen. You read more here:

Here are some tips to keep your home safe from possible nicotine poisoning.
  • Keep all and any nicotine products up and far away from children’s reach.
  • Liquid nicotine should be kept locked up or completely out of the home if children.
  • Keep products in their original containers.
If you or a loved one has accidently ingested liquid nicotine or spilled some on your skin, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222. Expert nurses and toxicologists are available 24/7- when you need them the most. Hablamos Español.

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year’s Resolutions: Keep them Safe and Poison Free

One of the biggest New Year’s resolutions that people have is to lose weight in the New Year. It’s so tempting to either drink something or swallow a pill that will melt the fat away.  However, we need to be aware of several products that may pose some health risks.

Below is a list of some of the most popular forms of losing weight and why they might not be the best choice. Remember, exercise and eating right is the healthiest way to lose weight- there are no quick fixes!
Weight Loss Supplements
Most of these supplements boast about losing weight fast and curbing your appetite. While it might be appealing to a consumer, many times these advertising techniques are untrue. Many supplement companies are not held to any standards so there is no way to know if what you are taking is safe or effective. Some products even claim to be natural but that still does not mean they are safe to take. If you are looking to lose weight, please talk with your doctor or healthcare practitioner first.

Cleanse and Detox Plans
These products state they help you lose weight quickly. But in reality, the weight loss comes from water and stool weight. These cleanses can also be dangerous to your health. They could cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

The acai berry is grown in the Amazon River basin of Brazil.  It is rich in antioxidants.  It also contains iron, calcium, vitamin A and fiber.  Food and beverages are made from the skin, which is only 5% of the berry.  This makes acai products expensive.  Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are less expensive alternatives.  The research evidence connecting acai and weight loss is lacking.

Herbal Teas
Some teas promoted for dieting contain laxatives.  Excessive use may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fainting and dehydration.  Causing diarrhea to reduce calorie absorption is not very effective.  Most of the calorie absorption occurs in the small intestine, but laxatives tend to work on the colon.  A temporary weight loss due to water loss will be reversed once the person drinks something.  Bulk-producing agents are supposed to give a sense of fullness, but there is no evidence that they reduce appetite.

The Facts on Diet Pills

The FDA now lists more than 70 weight loss products that may be harmful and contain undeclared, active pharmaceutical ingredients that include fenproporex, fluoxetine, furosemide, cetilistat, sibutramine, bumetanide, phenytoin and phenolphthalein. Some of these ingredients are not approved for marketing in the United States. Some are prescription drugs that exceed the maximum recommended dosages.  Seizures, heart attacks and strokes are possible.  Beware of claims and have realistic expectations.
Here are three fast, easy New Year's resolutions if you have young children. 1) Get down on the floor at your children's eye level. Find things that can hurt them: dropped pills, batteries, and toy parts; household products in low cabinets ... and get those things up, out of the way. 2) Program our number into your phones. 3) Post the poison center phone number by every phone in your home. Need phone stickers or magnets? Call us at 1-800-222-1222 or go to
If you have any questions about your medications, herbals or dietary supplements, please call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Don't guess, be sure! A medical professional will answer your call right away and give you the help you need.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Toys and the Dangers of Button Batteries

Button batteries can be found in a variety of electronic devices including many toys that children receive during the holidays. Things like wristwatches, calculators, toys and even recorded Christmas cards all use button batteries. Unfortunately, their small size means that they can be easily swallowed by children. 

The Texas Poison Center Network wants you to know that button batteries are the most harmful type of battery for young children if swallowed. They can get stuck in the esophagus, leading to serious injury and is the leading cause of death by ingestion. Poison control centers across the United States report that about 3,500 button batteries are swallowed each year.
The symptoms of battery ingestion include vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and swallowing. Many times, swallowed batteries pass through the intestines and safely exit the body. This is not always the case, however, as they can easily get lodged in the esophagus.

Batteries stuck in the throat cause an electric current and can leak corrosive chemicals, like alkaline electrolyte, that can cause internal damage. When this happens, a buildup of the chemical hydroxide may occur, causing dangerous burns within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the damage caused can continue long after the battery is removed.

If your child ingests a battery, this is what you should do:

·         Immediately call your poison center at 1-(800)-222-1222.

·         Dial 9-1-1 immediately if someone
  • Stops breathing. 
  • Collapses. 
  • Has a seizure.

·        Don't induce vomiting

Swallowing batteries can be dangerous. Search your home for devices that may contain button batteries. Secure button battery-controlled devices out of reach of children and keep loose batteries locked away.
For more information, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year for poisoning emergencies and for informational calls, too.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Poison Safety Holiday Tips from the Texas Poison Center Network

Brrrr….the weather is getting colder and holiday festivities are alive and well. This time of year brings lots of joy, but it can also bring nausea, vomiting or other bodily reactions if you aren’t careful. The Texas Poison Center Network wants to help you avoid any unintentional poisonings this time of year, so please check out our holiday poison safety tips below!

Food Safety

·         Most important: Wash Your Hands! Whenever you are preparing food, it is so important to wash your hands before, during and after to prevent food poisoning.

·         Make sure to cook food well to reduce potential poisoning- poultry-180 degrees F, beef-160 degrees F and pork-160 degrees F.  Cover and reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F before serving.

·         Keep foods that need to be cold or hot at the right temperature. If food is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, bacteria can grow and sickness can ensue.

·         Never use unvented fuel-burning devices in a home or apartment.CO poisoning can occur. Read our blog on CO poison safety here.

·         Remember, contaminated food is not always obvious. If you are unsure if an item is still ok to eat, it is probably best to throw it out. Safety first!

Potentially Dangerous Décor
Tree Ornaments: Some ornaments are made of very thin metal or glass. If a child were to ingest part of an ornament, it could potentially cause choking or worse. Practice safety first when choosing ornaments to use on your tree with little ones in the home.

Gift Wrap: Overall, gift wrapping paper is pretty safe. But it is possible for some colored gift wrap or foil to contain lead. Don’t let babies chew on paper as a precaution.

Holiday Plants
Poinsettia: While these plants are a holiday favorite, ingesting very large amounts of this plant might cause a mild stomach ache. The sap on the plant can also cause a skin rash, so when handling these plants, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

Holly berries: While these berries are visually appealing, if ingested they can cause a stomach ache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Keep these berries out of reach of children.

Mistletoe: If this plant is ingested, it will leave you feeling pretty terrible as the plant does contain toxic substances. Common symptoms of poisoning from this plant include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ache.

Remember, as always, if you or someone you know has been potentially poisoned, please do not hesitate to contact the Poison Control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. We hope everyone has a safe holiday season!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Tips to Keep You Safe

Make sure you have a CO Detector
Each year in America, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims more than 500 lives and sends roughly 40,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. While these numbers are scary, there are ways to prevent CO poisoning.

So as the weather turns chilly throughout much of the country, the Texas Poison Center Network wants to remind everyone to have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning heating systems - including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, water heaters and space heaters - to detect any potentially deadly carbon monoxide (CO) leaks in your home.

Did you know that under certain conditions, all appliances that burn fuels can leak deadly CO? These fuels include kerosene; oil; coal; both natural and liquefied petroleum gas; and wood. By having a professional inspection of your fuel-burning heating appliances, you will be ahead of the game in protecting your family from the silent killer, CO poisoning.

Make sure the professional inspection includes checking chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage by debris. Birds, other animals and insects sometimes can nest in vents and block exhaust gases, causing the gases to enter the home. In addition, all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers and other fuel-burning heating appliances should be checked to make sure they are not loose or disconnected.


Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

  • Install at least one UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms. Carbon monoxide alarms measure levels of CO over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. It is very possible that you may not be experiencing symptoms when you hear the alarm. This does not mean that CO is not present.
  • Never use your range or oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.
  • Never keep a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of CO.
  • When purchasing an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.


If no one is feeling ill:
1.      Silence the alarm.

2.      Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
3.      Ventilate the house with fresh air by opening doors and windows.
4.      Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.

If illness is a factor:
1.      Evacuate all occupants immediately.

2.      Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
3.      Call 9-1-1 and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the number of people feeling ill.
4.      Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
5.      Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO.

Here’s One Family’s Story:

In Temple on October 29th, a family sat down to eat dinner.  Their CO detector went off, so they immediately evacuated the house and called 911.  The Temple fire department responded and went through the house and tested the levels of CO.  They determined that the levels of CO in the house were so high that it could have killed or severely injured the family very quickly.  They lived in a rental property and the source was their stove….but the thing that saved them was a working CO detector.

Remember: Carbon monoxide poisoning IS preventable! Make sure to protect yourself and your family by being prepared and aware. If you think you might have carbon monoxide poisoning, please call the Poison Control Network at 1-800-222-1222. If someone is having life threatening reactions, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Stay Poison Free this Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year where friends and families gather to give thanks for their blessings as well as enjoy lots of amazing food! While we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, we want to make sure you have a safe and poison-free one as well.

As you prepare your feast, please keep these tips in mind:

  • Handle food carefully. Food poisoning usually happens because of poor food handling practices. Symptoms can include fever, headache, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. The guilty party in all food poisonings is bacteria, which enters our bodies through contaminated food. Wash hands, dishes, utensils, kitchen equipment and work surfaces before and after handling. Be particularly careful around knives, washing them thoroughly after each use. And remember, even frozen food can contain bacteria.
  • Cook food carefully. Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning and while it’s normally not fatal, it is widespread. It is typically found in raw meats, poultry, eggs, milk, fish and their bi-products. Salmonella can only be destroyed by cooking food thoroughly and with temperatures above 140 degrees.
  • It’s okay to thaw turkey in its original plastic for one to two days. After that, move the turkey to plastic wrap or foil. Don’t keep it in its original wrapping for more than two days.
  • Thaw turkey or poultry inside the fridge, rather than elsewhere in your kitchen.
  • Don’t stuff the turkey in advance and then refrigerate it. The core of the turkey is a perfect place for bacteria to grow. Remove all stuffing before refrigerating leftover meats. Keep the stuffing, gravy or broth in a separate container.
  • Be careful around the booze. Adults, obviously, should always drink responsibly, but in large gatherings, it’s important to be mindful of small children – particularly those who aren’t afraid to pick up discarded cups left behind by adults. Even a small amount of alcohol can poison a child.
  • Also be wary of choking hazards. Peanuts, raisins, hard candies, cocktail sausages and other hors d’oeuvres are tasty additions to any holiday meal, but they can be choking hazards for the littlest partiers. And many pediatricians advise that children under the age of one year avoid nuts, because of the risk of allergies. Keep these foods out of the reach of very young children to prevent a choking incident. 

If you follow these tips, you will surely be on your way to having a wonderful holiday. If you have any concerns or questions regarding poisonings, please do not hesitate to contact us! Commit this number to memory or simply save it in your phone contacts: 1-800-222-1222. We are here when you need us, 24/7.

Friday, November 14, 2014

AAPCC Study Shows Tweens Don’t Know Much about

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) is in its third year of working with the over-the-counter (OTC) Literacy education program which aims at educating 5th and 6th graders on how to safely use OTC medication. The  AAPCC shared two recent surveys of 6th graders and it showed  that tweens to do not know about OTC medication safety and awareness.

 The survey showed only 37% of questions were answered correctly and only 53% of the questions were correct when asked about how to read a Drug Facts label. Through this survey information, we are able to see that tweens need more education regarding OTC medications.

 Here are a few tips to keep in mind when talking to tweens about OTC medication:

·         Read the Drug Facts label- this information is important and provided so that you know the facts about what you are putting in your body.

·         Never take more than the prescribed amount which you can find on the label of the medication.

·         Look at the active ingredients and be careful when taking two OTC medications. For example, Acetaminophen is a common ingredient in many medications.

·          With liquid medications, always follow dosing instructions. The medication cups are provided with the liquid medications for a reason!

·         And as always, remember to store medications up and away from children. Safety first.

For more information on the OTC Literacy program please visit  If you are concerned about a possible poisoning, please do not hesitate to contact your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.