Emergencies can strike anytime, anywhere. In the past few months, our friends and neighbors across America have experienced a rash of emergencies – flooding in North Dakota, New Jersey and Vermont; a tornado in Joplin, Missouri; an earthquake centered in Virginia; fires in Arizona and Texas, just to name a few.
Emergencies often are unpredictable. That’s why it’s so important for each of us to be prepared.
September is National Preparedness Month, a time to make sure that our homes, workplaces and communities are ready to handle disasters and emergencies of all kinds.
When a disaster strikes, it’s good to know that America’s 57 poison control centers are ready to respond. In fact, they have lots of experience providing assistance and information during emergencies. Last summer, for example, poison centers in the Gulf Coast region fielded calls from residents affected by the oil spill. This spring, poison centers assisted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by responding to calls from people concerned about radiation from a nuclear power plant in Japan damaged by the March 11 earthquake. And during the 2009 pandemic, poison centers responded to calls about H1N1 influenza.
It’s common for people to have poison emergencies during a disaster. For example, their water or food may be contaminated, they may get carbon monoxide poisoning from using portable generators incorrectly, or they may get bitten or stung by displaced critters.
The experts at your local poison control center provide help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even during emergencies. Plus, poison centers have disaster plans in place so that if a center is damaged during an emergency, calls from that area can be routed immediately to another center for seamless coverage.
One simple and important step that you can take to ensure you are prepared for an emergency is to program your cell phone with the nationwide 1-800-222-1222 Poison Help phone number. Or, post it next to your home telephone. That way you can reach your poison center easily and quickly if you have a poison emergency.
Remember: Help is just a phone call away.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to prevent and treat poison exposures. Poison centers offer free, private, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We take calls in more than 150 languages and from the hearing impaired.
For questions about poison or if you think someone has been exposed to a poison, call 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center.