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.

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!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Babies at Texas Hospital Test Positive for TB: What You Need to Know

Recently, five babies tested positive for tuberculosis in El Paso, Texas after coming in contact with a worker at the facility who was infected with the disease. Possibly more than 800 newborns and 40 employees were also exposed to this sometimes deadly disease.

Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is a potentially fatal disease that affects the lungs. It can lay dormant (no signs of infection) for months or years.  Once active, it is spread through coughs, sneezes and speaking in close proximity. Babies can be particularly sensitive to TB because they have weakened or immature immune systems. Older people can also be vulnerable to TB and can become easily infected if they come in contact with an infected individual.

Symptoms of TB include:

  • a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum
  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • no appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • sweating at night

If you think you might have been exposed to TB, please contact your physician. For more information on TB, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at For any questions about poison, please contact the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222.

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:

·        Make a plan so your family knows what to do when disaster strikes (Check out this family communication plan from FEMA:

·        Be informed so you know what to do when disaster strikes your area (Sign up for alerts in your area:

·        Get Involved in the community preparedness (FEMA shares ways you can get involved:

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:

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 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.