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.

WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?

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.


 
PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY FROM CO POISONING
 
  • 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.

WHAT ACTIONS DO I TAKE IF MY CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM GOES OFF?

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 http://www.scholastic.com/otcliteracy/.  If you are concerned about a possible poisoning, please do not hesitate to contact your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Safety Equals Fun for All!





It’s that time of year when kids get all dressed up in their favorite Halloween costumes and head out to their neighbor’s homes to collect all kinds of candy as they belt out “Trick or Treat!” Sometimes adults even get in on the fun and dress up too. While Halloween can be an exciting time for kids, it is extremely important that adults be cautious about potential poisonings.   


The Texas Poison Center Network wants you to have a safe and happy Halloween so check out these tips to keep in mind to ensure safe fun for all!

Halloween Safety Tips

ü  Provide your child with a nourishing meal or snack before trick-or-treating.  A hungry child is much more apt to sample treats before returning home.  Candy treats, as well as sweet drinks, eaten while trick-or-treating often contribute to stomach upset symptoms. 

ü  Children should never eat Halloween candy until an adult has inspected it.  Some over the counter medications look exactly like small candies, so never let your children eat unwrapped candy or homemade goodies.  Better to toss something away than take the chance it contains a potentially poisonous substance.  Remember this saying:  “When in doubt, throw it out!”

ü  Ensure that costumes are reflective and that your children carry flashlights or glow sticks. Also, watch out for cars!

ü  Use makeup that is labeled as non-toxic to reduce the risk of skin irritations.  Other products may contain emollients, laxatives, talc and even hydrocarbons that may cause skin irritations. 

ü  Accompany young children at all times and only visit familiar well-lit homes.

ü  Avoid eating fruit and homemade treats unless they are from a trusted source.   

ü  Remember that small items can be a choking hazard: gum, peanuts, hard candy and even small toys.

ü  Remember to keep dogs on a leash at all times.  Dogs can bite if they feel threatened or confused especially when approached by someone wearing a mask or costume.   

 
Most importantly, have fun! If you suspect your child has been poisoned or is having a reaction to a candy, please do not hesitate to contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. They are available 24/7 to provide assistance and help to you when you need it most.

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Camphor: What You Need to Know about the Dangers of this Ingredient

Most people might not be familiar with what camphor is or what products you can find it in. The Texas Poison Center Network wants you to know how this ingredient, if overused, can be poisonous to your body. Camphor can especially be dangerous to children causing seizures if ingested.

What is Camphor?

Camphor is an ingredient that is commonly found in insect or moth repellents, but it can also be found in products used for itching relief and inhalation for upper respiratory congestion. It absorbs rapidly into the body through your skin, respiratory tract and the gastrointestinal tract.
Camphor should never be swallowed, which is why it can be so dangerous for children. If you have any products in your home used for anti-itch, congestion or insect repellents, please make sure to keep these locked up and out of reach of children. Children have ended up hospitalized with seizures after ingesting products with this ingredient.

Symptoms of Camphor Ingestion
Some common symptoms if this product is ingested include:

Ø  Stomach Ache

Ø  Nausea

Ø  Vomiting

Ø  Irritability

Ø  Agitation

Ø  Seizures

 
If you think you or someone you know have accidently ingested camphor, please do not hesitate to contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Experts in toxicology are ready to answer your calls and relieve any concerns 24/7.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

National Night Out: Understanding Poison Control’s Role in Emergency Services




Tuesday, October 7th, marks National Night Out (NNO) in Texas. NNO was created as America’s night out against crime as well as a way to create camaraderie within the community by letting neighbors knows what emergency services are here to help them when they need it most.

Poison Control is an important emergency service that the community should be aware of and understand so they know when to call. Here are just a few ways the poison control hotline can help you and your community.

·         When calling this FREE service at 1-800-222-1222, you have access to a network of nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, and physicians who have extensive education, training and expertise in the field of toxicology or poisoning.

·         The poison control network can help with many issues including drug, medical, occupational, prevention/safety, and environmental information.

·         Even if it is not an emergency but you are still looking for information on poisonings, please feel free to call the poison hotline. Our specialists are not only specially trained to handle poison emergencies but also to provide information that can help prevent a possible poisoning.

On Tuesday evening, make an effort to join a block party, get together with neighbors, have a cookout or even take part in a parade. All these events are created to enhance awareness of services so please take part in your local NNO events!