Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Potentially Dangerous Toys to Be Aware of this Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of year! As people start heading to the stores to purchase neat toys for their loved ones, it is important to be aware of the toys that could pose a potential danger to children. A consumer safety group called PIRG (Public Interest Research Groups) recently released its annual report on dangerous toys this holiday season. Some of the toys that made this list can also be potential poisons. Here are some of the things to look out for this holiday season.

Slime- you see it everywhere these days due to its popularity with children. There are products that now sell a set with of all the ingredients needed for children to make their own slime. One of these slime making kits from Nickelodeon, is labeled “Frozen Treats Slime” and is marketed as smelling just like ice cream. But the packaging also states that the set contains harmful ingredients that should not be ingested. These slime packages can be a lot of fun for children, but it is extremely important that they are being monitored by an adult when playing.  Slime is not made for ingesting and should be kept out of children’s mouths.
Some slime products contain a substance called borax. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, but natural is not synonymous to safe. Ingesting borax could cause adverse reactions such as:

·         Rash or burn to skin or mouth
·         Nausea and Vomiting
·         Respiratory problems
·         Long term reproductive health issues

Ingesting even a small amount of borax could potentially cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Larger amounts could cause more severe symptoms.  If you or a loved one consumes slime with borax, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Texas Poison Center Network for help at 1-800-222-1222. The call is free and is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are looking for a slime recipe that doesn’t include borax, click this link to learn more.

Children’s Play Make-Up
Make-up can be fun for children to play with, but it can also be a cause for concern. Last year, asbestos was found in some make-up kits.  Most make-up products are not tested or required to pass any safety standards to ensure they are free of dangerous chemicals. Therefore, it is best to err on the side of caution and check the ingredients yourself if you are purchasing play make-up. We recommend avoiding these products altogether, but if you are purchasing a make-up play set, make sure the products are contaminant and talc-free (talc can be a source of asbestos).
Exposure to asbestos can cause several health cancers including mesothelioma. If you or a loved one believes they have come in contact with asbestos, please call the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222.

Jewelry with Toxic Metals
Children’s jewelry is usually made from a variety of metallic and plastic materials.  Some manufacturers have been known to use heavy metals to include cadmium. Cadmium is a known carcinogen and can hinder brain development in children. Therefore, it is not a good idea to purchase cheap jewelry for young children who might potentially put these items in their mouths.

Button Batteries
Button batteries are smaller than a penny. These lithium batteries can be found in many children’s toys as well as remote controls and watches. The reason these can be dangerous is if you were to swallow one, it could cause life-threatening damage. The battery can cause burn damages to the esophagus, difficulty swallowing and breathing, and sometimes death. If you might suspect your child swallowed a button battery, please call the poison hotline as soon as possible.

Older Toys (and some new toys) that can Contain Lead
Beware when re-gifting older toys as they can contain lead. There are also some newer toys (musical instruments available on-line), that through an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, were found to contain illegal levels of lead.
Why is lead dangerous? When a child puts objects containing lead in their mouths, the child can get lead poisoning. Lead is toxic to humans and animals. It can cause serious health issues and even low levels of lead in the blood can cause:
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing Issues
  • Anemia

In rare cases, it can also cause seizures, coma, and even death. If you are concerned you or a loved one might have encountered lead, please do not hesitate to reach out to the poison center.
The Texas Poison Center Network wants everyone to have a safe holiday and for presents to be poison-free! If you have any issues or concerns about any toys, including the ones we shared with you today, don’t hesitate to call.  Our phone lines are answered by pharmacists, nurses and toxicologists ready to help you with your poison concerns. Program the number in your phone so you always have it handy: 1-800-222-1222.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Have a Healthy & Happy Thanksgiving

As we get closer to celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, it’s important to keep in mind safety precautions you should practice in order to stay healthy. Follow these important tips from the Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN) to assist you in having a poison-free Thanksgiving holiday.

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

  • Store and prepare food safely. Food poisoning is usually due to poor food handling practices. Symptoms can include fever, headache, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. Food poisoning usually occurs when bacteria gets on the food, then enters the body and make you sick. Wash hands, dishes, utensils, kitchen equipment and work surfaces before and after handling food. Be particularly careful with knives and cutting boards, washing them thoroughly after each use. Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within 2 hours of shopping or preparing; 1 hour when the temperature is above 90°F.
  • Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning and while it’s normally not fatal, it is widespread. Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping, with onset about 12 to 72 hours after infection; the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment, but diarrhea and dehydration may be so severe that some people need hospital care. It is typically found in raw meats, poultry, eggs, milk, fish and their bi-products. Salmonella can be destroyed by cooking food thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees.
  • When frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely. But as soon as it starts to thaw, bacteria that may have been there before freezing can start to grow again if it is not kept at a safe temperature. It’s okay to thaw the turkey in its original plastic for one to two days, but after that, move the turkey to a plastic container, wrap, or foil. Don’t keep it in its original wrapping for more than two days once it has started to thaw.
  • Thaw turkey or poultry inside the fridge; do not thaw at room temperature or in water.   
  • 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 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.
  • 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 hazard
    s for the littlest partiers. 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 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. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 4, 2019

TPCN SPI Spotlight: Cristie Bradshaw

1. Tell me your history with poison control and how you became a Specialist in Poison Information (SPI). (Length of time worked there/background/passion for this, etc.) 
I started my career with TTUHSC in a max security TDCJ unit, in high security. I knew I didn’t belong there, and Poison Control rescued me- whew. Yay! I have been a nurse for 26 yrs, CCU, home health and pre-auth nurse for an insurance company. I’ve been here a total of 14 years.

Cristie with her husband Tom.
2. I’m sure you hear a lot of interesting stories when answering calls, but what is one story that sticks out in your head that might have been scary, but turned out funny and/or everything worked out after the call. 
I mostly remember the tragic ones, sad but true.

3.What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for poison control? 
We are nosy by nature in this line of work, we’re not interrogating you, we just need the facts ma’am, just the facts--that helps us provide the most appropriate treatment recommendations.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job and why? 
The schedule, gives me time for “life”.

5. Why do you think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help? 
Save money and precious health care/emergency provider man power.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Stay Healthy When Visiting Petting Zoos

This time of year, you will find many holiday activities that include festivals, fairs, carnivals and many times, petting zoos. Many kids get excited to pet and feed the animals, but if they are not cautious, they can potentially become sick. Between 2010 and 2015, there were over 100 confirmed outbreaks of illnesses associated with petting zoos. The most common germs that people encounter include E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and Salmonella, but there are many other types of germs that can be spread between people and animals.

Who is the most at risk?
Children under 5 years of age as well as adults over the age of 65 are more likely to get sick from germs carried by animals. Those with a weakened immune system are also more at risk and should take extra precautions at petting zoos. Petting animals can be a fun activity if you practice safety first to ensure no one gets sick. After petting any animal, you need to make sure you wash your hands with soap and water. Not washing your hands or eating or drinking in the petting area increase your chances of getting sick.

How to Keep Loved Ones Healthy
Keep these important tips in mind when visiting petting zoos or anywhere where you can meet the animals.

·         Wash your hands right after touching the animals. Even if you do not touch the animals, but you go into their habitat, it is still important to wash your hands.

·         When it comes to washing your hands, soap and water works best! If you cannot find a hand-washing area nearby, then using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol will work as well. But make sure to wash your hands as soon as you can.

·         Do not eat or drink around animals and keep food and drink out of the areas where animals are kept. It is also important to make sure you do not share your food with the animals.

·         Always make sure to supervise children when they are around the animals.

·         Do not let children sit or play on the grounds where the animals stay or live.

·         Do not let children put anything in their mouths including fingers or an object such as a pacifier.

Visiting pettings zoos can be incredibly fun and educational, but we want to make sure it’s safe for all those involved too! If you are concerned that you might have fallen ill after visiting a petting zoo, call the poison center hotline for assistance at 1-800-222-1222. The poison centers can answer any of your questions and assist you with any poisoning concerns.

Monday, September 9, 2019

What you Need to Know about the Dangers of Vaping

E-cigs, vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, mods, tanks and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). What do these devices all have in common? They are all a form of e-cigarettes that people utilize for “vaping” or “juuling”. When these devices first came out, it was widely speculated that vaping was safer than smoking a regular cigarette. But as time goes on and more reports on vaping come to light, utilizing vaping devices for smoking could potentially be incredibly dangerous.

E-cigarettes can contain harmful substances that can include nicotine, heavy metals such as lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing substances. Some of these e-cigarette products are also used to deliver illicit or illegal substances such as THC or cannabinoid compounds. Furthermore, data has also shown many THC based vaping products are created illegally and there is no way for officials to regulate the products or know what ingredients are included. This makes it even harder to identify what is the ultimate culprit in these vaping products that is causing potentially life-threatening pulmonary illnesses.

As of September 6, 2019, the CDC has reported 450 possible cases from 33 different states including five deaths regarding pulmonary illnesses that have been linked to vaped nicotine or cannabis-related products. Many of these cases involving patients falling ill used cannabis-derived vaping products. A few reported using nicotine-based only.

Symptoms reported include:
·         Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
·         Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
·         Fatigue, fever, or weight loss

Some patients stated that symptoms came about within a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks. The CDC stated that no infectious causes have been identified at this time, but they believe it has to do with some type of chemical exposure. To view the preliminary research by the CDC so far, please click on this link. Health officials are urging people to stop using vaping products until more data is available.

If you or someone you know is having any of these symptoms or have any concerns about this issue, please call the Texas Poison Center Network for assistance and/or information at 1-800-222-1222. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your concerns. 

To view PSAs created by the Upstate New York Poison Center, click on the links below. 

Students can view the video here:
Parents can view the video here:

Friday, August 30, 2019

Be Prepared, Not Scared, During National Preparedness Month

With hurricane season upon us, it’s a great time to be reminded of why being prepared for a national disaster is so incredibly important. September is National Preparedness Month, which promotes family and community disaster and emergency planning now and in the future. This year’s theme is “Prepared, Not Scared”, and the Texas Poison Center Network wants you to know we are here to help with any questions you may have during natural disasters.  See the tips below that will help you create a kit to keep you and your family safe. 

Emergency preparedness involves four important steps:
  • Get or create a disaster preparedness kit (Check out this list from   
  • Make a plan so your family knows what to do when a disaster happens; then practice this plan with your family. (Check out this family communication plan from FEMA which is available in multiple languages:
  • Sign up for alerts in your area and preparedness tips from FEMA (Follow this link for more information: 
  • Get involved in preparing your community (The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster have worked tirelessly to assist communities since 1970 that are affected by disasters; learn how you can help by visiting their website at this link: 

How can the Poison Centers help during disasters? 

 If there is concern regarding a chemical or biological attack, the staff at each of the poison centers has widespread knowledge of healthcare resources and works closely with hospitals to ensure that patients receive the necessary treatment. Experts are able to identify what antidotes can help, as well as provide education to both the public and healthcare professionals.
 Poison center staff handles acute and chronic poisonings, including environmental and occupational exposures on a daily basis. This is a helpful resource because the specialists in poison information who answer your calls have expertise in toxicology.
 Poison centers collect data. The data collection system can assist in the detection of diseases and help track individuals who might have been exposed to a hazard. 
 Poison centers assist in alleviating fears. As a 24 hour resource, you can contact them at any time with concerns or issues. No question is too small and the poison specialists are happy to assist with any and all poison-related calls.  

The Poison Help Hotline is such an important resource to the community and the best part is it’s available 24/7 for FREE! Call 1-800-222-1222 and put your mind at ease when dealing with any natural disaster, emergency, or any other poison related issue. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Back to School Poison Control Safety

Back to school means prepping! It may start with purchasing new school supplies and maybe even some new clothes in order to get back into the swing of learning! But it also means making sure you are prepared for poison emergencies.

Here are some tips from the Texas Poison Center Network to make sure this school year stays poison-free:

1.  Medications- Unfortunately, most poisonings involve medications. Remember, it is never a good idea to send medications in your children’s backpack. If you child needs to take medication during the day, talk to the office staff about the school’s policy on bringing and administering medications. For older children, remind them to never take any medication offered to them or that is not prescribed to them. Let your children know that one of the risks of sharing medications is not always knowing what is in the medication that is being shared. Always keep medications locked, out of sight and out of reach of children.

2.    School Supplies- It is a good idea to sit down with your young children and remind them that supplies they use at school such as crayons, glue, markers, and glitter should be kept out of their
mouths and should only be appropriately as the teacher has them do. It is important to educate older children on the potential danger of ingesting or inhaling some of these items simply because a friend dared them, etc.

3.    Cleaning Supplies- While most cleaning supplies in classrooms are out of reach of children, some are accidentally left in an area that is within reach and can be dangerous for children if ingested. This includes items like hand sanitizer. While hand hygiene is important to reduce the spread of bacteria, it is also important for adults to monitor it’s use, since it contains alcohol and other ingredients that can cause intoxication, vomiting or worse.

4.    Program the Poison Control Helpline in your phone. If you suspect a poison emergency, please contact 1-800-222-1222. Commit the number to memory and try to teach your kids the number as well. You never know when you might need it!

The TPCN hopes your children have a great school year and stay safe from poisonings of any kind. But if you do find yourself needing poison control, remember poison control experts are available to provide assistance and advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays so never be afraid to reach out for help.