When Poisonings Occur: 3 Questions Answered

The Consumer Product Safety Commission answers your pressing questions about poison awareness and safety.

If my child eats or drinks a substance that might be a poison, where can I find information on treatment?

If you think someone has been poisoned from a medicine or household chemical, call your Poison Control Center immediately. Its phone number can be found on the inside cover of the yellow or white pages of the telephone directory. Or dial the new national Poison Control Center hotline at 1-800-222-1222, and they'll connect you with your local experts. Keep the number on your phone. There are currently some 100 Poison Control Centers in the United States that maintain information for the doctor or the public on recommended treatment for the ingestion of household products and medicines. They are familiar with the toxicity (how poisonous it is) of most substances found in the home or know how to find this information.

If I find my youngster playing with a bottle of medicine or some household product, how can I tell if he or she has swallowed some and what should I do?

Reactions vary, depending on the product. Sometimes the child may vomit; or he or she may appear to be drowsy or sluggish. Some of the substance may remain around the child's mouth and teeth. There may be burns around the lips or mouth from corrosive items; or you may be able to smell the product on the child's breath. Some products cause no immediate symptoms. If a household chemical has been ingested, call the Poison Control Center or follow the first aid instructions on the label. Even if you suspect, but don't know for sure, that your child has ingested a potentially hazardous product, call your Poison Control Center, emergency department, or doctor. Keep these telephone numbers on your phone.

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