The Texas Poison Center blog is here to provide useful information and tips on dealing with toxins and poisons that we are sometimes unintentionally exposed to in or out of the home. This blog is not meant to replace calling a Poison Control Center. Poison centers offer free medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222.
As the weather heats up and kids get out of school for
summer, more time is spent outdoors working and playing. The summer months can
be full of fun, but it is also a time when bugs and snakes come out and while
most are harmless, there are a few that can hurt you. Dangerous and venomous bugs such as wasps and
spiders are important to keep a lookout for when beingoutdoors.
There are also a few poisonous snakes to be aware of in case you ever come across
them in the wild. The Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN) wants you to know the dangers
of encountering these bugs and snakes in order to keep you and your family
Creepy Crawlers in Texas
Lots of little kids love bugs and enjoy touching and learning
about them. Seeing kids’ curiosity about bugs can be endearing, but it’s
important to be aware that some bugs can cause pain. Below the TPCN has compiled
a list of some of the most prominently known bugs to lookout for in Texas when
it comes to bites and stings, so make sure to share this information with kids
or anyone playing or working outdoors.
Bees and Wasps
You might have noticed some wasps, yellow jackets, bees or
hornets buzzing around your home. If so, they most likely have built a nest
somewhere on the outside of your home or in hollow places that do not get
disturbed. When it is light out, look around your home to see if you can find
the nest.If so, you should call a
professional to take care of it.Never
try to remove the nest yourself. If the
nests are not taken care of, there can be dangerous consequences, especially
for those who have allergies to these stings.
Most spiders are harmless to humans. But in Texas there are
two spiders to watch out for and they are the brown recluse and the black
widow. These spiders are known to hang out in dark areas where there isn’t much
draft. The only time they might bite is if they feel threatened. Unfortunately,with most spider bites, you won’t even feel
them. That is why it is important that anytime you find a suspecting bite on
your body or your child’s, that you call the poison center for assistance and treatment
Mosquitoes are some of the peskiest bugs out there, but they
are relatively harmless as long as you cover yourself up with repellent. They
can carry some yucky diseases, though, including West Nile Virus and malaria.
The best way to avoid mosquitoes around your home is to get rid of any standing
water, including bird baths. Standing water is the way mosquitoes breed so
ensure you dump out all standing water, especially after it rains. Mosquitoes
are most active in the early evening so if you need to go out at this time,
make sure you use mosquito repellent and cover all exposed areas of skin.
Ticks can be found in dense brush and wooded areas. If you
plan on taking a hike or going around heavily wooded areas, make sure to cover
your skin with clothing to help eliminate chances of a tick biting you. Also, safeguard
by using tick repellent where skin is visible to eliminate chances of being
bit. If you do find a tick embedded in your skin, the best thing you can do is
remove it with tweezers. Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 for information on how to remove it or treat the open
wound it can sometimes leave behind.
Snakes to Look Out for in Texas
A cottonmouth snake can reach lengths of up to five feet
long. Commonly called a water moccasin, these snakes enjoy being near bodies of
water and are usually a dark black color with wide bands over its body. It is
known to be aggressive so keep your eyes open when playing by lakes, ponds and
The Western Diamondback rattlesnake is one of the most
common snakes you will find in Texas. It can reach lengths of up to seven feet
and has a triangular-shaped head. They spend most of their days hiding in
low-growing shrubs or rocks This snake is most known for their rattle, but it
is also covered in a diamond-shaped pattern, which is where it gets its name.
They don’t tend to be aggressive, but if their habitat is disturbed or
threatened they can be, so keep your eyes peeled when out on hikes in wooded
Copperheads reach about 30 inches long and their color
consists of a reddish-brown head with coppery bodies. These snakes aren’t known
to be aggressive. Most people who have been bitten only get bitten by
accidentally stepping on them. They easily blend in with vegetation and dirt making
it easy to step on one. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and where
you are walking when in wooded or park areas.
This snake is the most colorful of the bunch, only reaching
about 2 feet in length. They are easier to spot due to their bright red, black
and yellow rings on their bodies. Coral snakes can be extremely dangerous due to their venom, especially if they bite a
child. Their mouths can be fairly small, so they have an easier time of biting
children than they do an adult. It is best to avoid these snakes and remember
the saying: Red touching yellow, kills a fellow, while red touching black,
venom they lack!
Remember, if you run across any of these snakes or bugs and
happen to get bitten or stung, please do not hesitate to contact a poison
center for help at 1-800-222-1222.
They are always there, always free and can provide help on how to treat the
bite and more. You can also visit www.poisoncontrol.org to read
more information on bites and stings.
April 27th is National Prescription Drug Take
Back Day, which addresses an important public safety and health concern. What is
the concern? If you do not properly dispose of unused medications or expired
prescription medications, then they could end up in the wrong hands and cause a
potential overdose or adverse reaction to a medication. Unused and expired
medicines in the home put you and your family at an increased risk for
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,
approximately 6 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. Many
of these medications were obtained from family members and friends. Medication
take back days provide an opportunity for families to dispose of medicine in a
safe, convenient, and responsible way.
On April 27th, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will collect medications at various drug
take-back sites. By turning in your unused medications, you are helping save
lives! Remember, medications should never be flushed down the toilet, because
this can affect the clean water supply. Instead of simply throwing medications
in the trash, head to a drug take-back site and turn them in.
Here are some important points to why turning in old
medications is so vital:
Pharmaceutical drugs can be just as dangerous as
street drugs when they get in the wrong hands.
The non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks
second to marijuana as the most commonly abused drugs in America.
Unused prescription drugs can easily be retrieved
if simply thrown in the trash. They can then be abused or illegally sold to
Most teens who abuse medications get them from
family or friends by going into their medicine cabinets.
The Texas Poison Center Network wants to keep you and your
family safe. It is always important to safely store the medicines you use by
keeping them out of reach of children and pets.
If you or someone you know has misused medication and is
having adverse reactions, please contact us! You can also contact the poison
center for information on safe medication disposal. They are available to take
your call 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.
This week, March 17th-23rd, marks the celebration
of National Poison Prevention Week 2019. In 1961, the United States designated
the third full week of March as National Poison Prevention Week, a week
dedicated to highlighting the dangers of poisonings. This year marks the 57th
year and acts as a reminder that poisonings are the leading cause of injury related
death in the United States. While injuries can cause harm, many are
preventable. And for those injuries that aren’t prevented, a poison expert is
only a phone call away and ready to assist you.
In 2017, poison centers in the US received approximately 2.6
million cases via telephone. That’s one poison exposure call every 12 seconds! But
not all the statistics involving poisons are bad. In fact, poison centers save
Americans more than $1.8 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity.
That is amazing and an incredible attribute to all the hard work the poison
centers do to help save lives and cut down visits to the emergency room.
Poison centers are also a fantastic help when it comes to
major public health emergencies and epidemics. Since 2011, the centers have
handled 500,000 calls of opioid misuse and abuse as well as calls of concern
regarding measles diagnoses. Other major issues poison centers have assisted
with recently include liquid laundry packets, synthetic cannabinoids, and
Not only do centers assist people with their poison
emergencies, but they also assist first responders and hospital personnel. And
on top of that, they identify emerging drugs of abuse and provide countless
hours of educational outreach.
What is considered a poison?
A poison is any substance, including medications,
which can be harmful to your body if too much is ingested, inhaled, injected or
absorbed through the skin. Accidental poisoning can occur when a person
unintentionally takes too much of a substance without wanting to cause themselves
Poisonings are more common than you might think. According
to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), approximately 93
percent of these poisonings are happening at home, with 45%of them involving
children under the age of six.
are some tips to keep your family safe:
In children ages six and younger, the most
common exposures are to medicines, personal care and cleaning products.
Child-resistant packages are notchildproof. Most two-year olds can open a child-resistant container in
3 minutes or less.
Calling 1-800-222-1222 from anywhere in the United States will connect
you to your regional poison center.
Keep all poisons locked up and out of reach
Never refer to medicine (prescription,
vitamins or otherwise) as candy, as children often mistake pills for yummy
Get fuel burning appliances checked yearly
and make sure working carbon monoxide detectors are installed in your home
and checked twice a year. This is especially important for the winter
to Do in the Event of an Accidental Poisoning
If you or someone else has been potentially poisoned,
always remember to first remain calm. Then immediately call the toll-free
Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Follow all instructions given to you
by the poison specialist. Often, the poison specialist will call you back to
make sure that things are going okay. For more information on accidental
poisonings and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones, please
visit the Texas Poison Center Network website at www.poisoncontrol.org.
Below is the Texas Governor Proclamation on Poison Prevention Week:
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and CBD oil containing products have
become the new “thing” that people claim can help with all types of ailments
from seizures to sleeplessness, anxiety, inflammation and many more.
All medications in the US, whether they are found in a
pharmacy, a discount store, or the medicine aisle of your local grocery store,
are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This includes both prescription
and non-prescription medications. Unfortunately, since CBD oils and CBD oil
containing products are not considered medications, they are not federally
regulated; just like dietary supplements, homeopathic agents, and herbal
products. And, since they are not federally regulated, they have no requirements
for quality, efficacy and even safety. There is also the potential of possible
contamination during the growing, production, packaging, labeling or even
storing and shipping process that adds an additional layer of concern.
Even though CBD oil is marketed as legal, in reality it is
not that simple.Since CBD oil can be
extracted from either the marijuana plant or the hemp plant, their legal status
is usually questionable. Hemp derived oils are currently legal in most states since
they claim not to contain THC (the chemical that makes marijuana illegal) and
thus does not cause the “high”.Marijuana
derived oils are usually only legal in some states where other marijuana
containing products are also legal.
Since there is not yet enough scientific evidence to justify
their effectiveness or safety, it is essential that proper precautions are
taken when purchasing CBD oil or any other CBD containing product and that any
adverse effects are reported immediately. It is also important to discuss their use with
your physician since there is a possibility that they can cause adverse
reactions when mixed with certain medications. If you or someone you know has
an adverse reaction to a CBD oil or CBD containing product, please do not
hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network for help at 1-800-222-1222. They have certified
nurses and pharmacists answering the phones 24/7 to help with any question or poison emergency.
me your history with poison control and how you became a SPI.
I have only worked at Poison Control since
this past September.My background is in
school nursing for the most part and it is
policy there to contact poison
control for any exposure to a potentially toxic substance that a student or
teacher has been exposed to. The thing that I enjoy most about this job is
learning practical information about substances that I can help people with
(this also satisfies my need to be a smarty pants). I learned about the job
when my fiancé stated that she and her sister had a friend who were always
talking about how awesome the job is.
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 once received a call where a teacher had
been smearing glow stick fluids all over her face while giving her students a
over toxic chemicals. I guess this is so they would remember the
subject matter. She stated that she got some of the fluid in her eye and that
now her face was burning. She stated she irrigated her eye earlier. I
recommended washing her face with soap and water. I assume that everything
worked out okay after this call because she didn’t call back complaining of
worsening symptoms. I thought the call was ironic for many reasons. She read on
the label that the substance was non-toxic, she was talking about toxic
chemicals. Then she called Poison Control because when her face started burning
she second guessed herself on the toxicity. And why would you rub it on your
face if you were not 100% certain. Plus just weird.
do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for
We give advice according to the amount of
information we are given. The more descriptive they can be with the situation
the more we will be able to help.
do you enjoy most about your job and why?
I enjoy learning. Everyday there is
something new to learn and all of the people that I work with are great
resources with a vast amount of knowledge.
you think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource for
It is important for people to have poison
control as a resource for emergency help because a lot of exposures do not
require a medical professional to observe. These exposures when taken to the Emergency
Department (ED) of the hospital are expensive for the person who was exposed,
and make take up a spot in the ED that can be used for true medical emergency.
With the new year upon us, now is the perfect time to make sure
you and your family are prepared to prevent potential poisonings and keep your
loved ones safe. The TPCN has compiled our top five resolutions for have a
Check them out below:
1.STAY INFORMED! Sign up for the TPCN Newsletter and the TPCN Blog- The newsletter comes
only once a month to your email and it provides you with tips and tools
regarding the time of year and any major timely poison related issues. The blog
is bi-weekly and provides updates on newsworthy poison dangers. By receiving
these and reading them, you can stay up-to-date on poison dangers and ensure
you are keeping you and your loved ones healthy and safe.
2.BE PREPARED! Save the Poison Help Number: If
you do ever need to call poison control, it’s a smart idea to already have the
number saved in your phone. In stressful situations it can sometimes be hard to
remember numbers, so having the number saved in your phone will alleviate
stress and help you get ahold of poison control quickly. Save it in your phone:
3.PREVENT POISON! Clean Out Medications
and Other Potentially
Dangerous Household Products: Now is a great time to clean out your
medicine cabinet. Get rid of expired medications or any medications you no
longer take or need. Once you have done that, make sure your medication is
located up, away, & out of sight in a secured location. This keeps children
out of medications and keeps your entire family safer.
Be sure to keep and
store any household cleaners and other potential poisons in secure locations as
well. These household items will also have expiration dates on them, so if they
are expired, be sure to throw those away too!
4.SHARE! Order a FREE Materials from the TPCN
Website: On our website, you can order free magnets, brochures and other educational
items. Make sure to at least order a magnet for your family and maybe a few
extra to give to friends, neighbors or relatives to keep on their refrigerators,
especially those with small children and those who are elderly. To order, visit
www.poisoncontrol.org, click on
“Order Materials” and input your zip code. Scroll down and you can see all the items
you can order from us at no cost to help you stay informed and poison-free!
Brochures: Download or order at least one of the poison control brochures
to learn more about poisons from our website www.poisoncontrol.org. Brochure topics