As we get closer to the end of October, many schools,
organizations and parks will be hosting a variety of Halloween themed events.
While this is an exciting time for youngsters to get dressed up in their
favorite costumes, it can also be a time when dangers can be hiding all around
The Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN) wants you to enjoy
your Halloween festivities safely! The TPCN offers parents the following safety
tips to help prevent exposures and injuries on Halloween:
Inspect all candy for any signs of tampering (examples
include: tears, pinholes, discoloration, etc.) before eating or allowing children
to eat. If you suspect any candy has been tampered with, please do not hesitate
to report it to police.
Check all candy and edibles for any possible choking
Children should avoid eating homemade treats
from strangers, and any treats that may contain marijuana or other drugs. If
you suspect a child has consumed candy containing a drug, call 1-800-222-1222 for immediate
Limit the amount of candy ingested at one time.
If too much candy is eaten at once, it can cause tummy aches.
Test face makeup on a small area of skin first
(preferably on the arm) to check for allergic reaction before applying it to
the face. Avoid decorating the face or body with products that aren’t intended
for the skin.
If applying costume makeup to the face, avoid
getting to close to the eyes and make sure to remove all makeup before bedtime
to prevent irritation.
Throw out any makeup that has a bad smell; this
could be a sign of contamination.
Glow in the Dark Jewelry or Glow Sticks:
These are usually used by parents to keep kids
visible at night while they are trick-or-treating. Be careful as children can
break these open and get the liquid on their hands, eyes, and/or mouth.
If this happens, wash the affected area with water
and/or rinse the eyes thoroughly.
If any amount is ingested, contact your local poison
center for additional information.
Check out this video on glow stick safety from our West Texas Regional Poison Center: https://youtu.be/tnQHda-BGEA
Remember the TPCN is here to provide free and confidential
information and treatment advice 24-hours a day, seven days a week, including
holidays! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-222-1222.
Tell me your history with poison control and how
you became a SPI.
My name is Serena Frederick and I am a Specialist of Poison Information II,
Certified (C-SPI II) at the Southeast Texas Poison Center in Galveston,
Texas. I have worked here since January 2011 "this time" but
actually worked here for a 6 month period in 1987. I am a Registered
Nurse, and have been in Nursing for a total of 33 years now and have nursing
experience in Critical Care, Psychiatry, Orthopedic Surgery, and Reproductive
Endocrinology. In 1987 I was not "seasoned enough" and had not enough
life and work experience to feel like I would be able to contribute to
the Poison Center, so went back to inpatient nursing after 6 months
here. I am now "seasoned" , and with the advent of
technology have been able to fulfill the requirements of the role and the needs
of the Center by making this part of my nursing career, coming back and making
it a win-win-win for Center-Self-Client.
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
There are so VERY many cases and stories and calls that come through that are
memorable. Some have been scary (ER code in progress, EMS on scene,
multiple exposures at the same time) and others have been "lighter"
in their nature. The calls that are most memorable though are the ones
where the client on the receiving end of the call relates to you how much
better they feel after talking with you, how you helped them to calm down
during their event, how you have made a difference in their experience and led
them to understanding.
What do you think people need to
know about the people who answer the phones for poison control?
I would like people to know that we SPI's that answer the phone are
well-educated, well-trained, and non-scripted professionals that can think
"on the fly" and approach each call based on what the needs for that
particular caller are in light of the exposure information that is provided to
us. We ask a lot of questions, but NOT because of a "box to
fill" but because we need specific information to give the best
information to the caller to help make a decision in an educated and
"non-guess" or "purely by the book" approach. We are
real, live persons on the other end: no apps, no dialogue algorithms, no
computer program that tells us what to say......we are for REAL!
What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
This job is challenging, and I like that. There is not a day that goes by
where I do not learn something new during the shift. You could never make
the claim that this job would allow you to become "intellectually
stale" because you have to be able to think off the grid, on the fly,
out of the box and be on GO at all times! There is never any way to know
WHAT is going to come over the line with each specific call, so being receptive
and objective, and being able to engage the caller is
critical....I believe it is called "people skills" !
Why do you think it is important
for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help?
I know that we can prevent a lot of unnecessary trips to the Emergency Services
for the general public. We also provide a high-level professional resource for
the medical community. The most important calls to me though are the ones
where you actually can help someone get direction to get IN TO the Emergency
Services system when they need to, because every time that is done there is potentially
a life that may have been saved! What a great reward, knowing in your
heart and soul that you actually helped someone who otherwise not have been
helped or known where to turn!