Poison Prevention

Stop Searching! Just Call!

A college student with a spider bite wonders if it’s normal that angry red lines have formed around the wound.

A young student realizes that she has become addicted to pain medications after her wisdom tooth surgery.

A 19-year-old serviceman wonders if this “new” drug he’s been offered by a fellow soldier is really so harmless.

If you are a young adult, one of these scenarios may have happened to you or someone you know. Was your first thought or reaction to reach for your keyboard and look it up on the Internet? If so, then you need “Unquestionable Answers.”

Turning to the Internet for advice and treatment can be dangerous simply because you don’t know the qualifications and reliability of the person posting the advice. In a chat room, there is no way to verify the expertise of the person you are chatting with, and it is difficult to assess which of the thousands of pages of search results might hold the answer to your urgent situation.

Valuable time can be lost in the search process.

America’s 57 poison centers say, “We provide unquestionable answers. Stop searching! Just call!”

Specifically, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. You’ll reach your local poison center, which provides immediate, expert advice to all callers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The calls are fully confidential and free.

Compared to 2006 when 6 percent of people were turning to the Internet as a source of information, 2011 saw that number jump four-fold to 25 percent. This raises an alarm because young adults either do not know where to turn for answers or, even worse, are unaware of the proper source of reliable information.

To remind young adults to call their poison center instead of searching online, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has launched a Facebook campaign called “Unquestionable Answers.” (Visit the AAPCC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/aapcc.)

The campaign features 20 e-posters highlighting examples of questions that really should be answered by the doctors, nurses and pharmacists at poison centers. Do you wonder “How much vomit is too much?” or “What happens if a guy takes the pill?”

Stop searching! Just call!

One more thing: to make that call easier, program your cell phone with the Poison Help number. That way, you’ll reach your local poison center more quickly in an emergency. 1-800-222-1222.

– Contributed by Brett Schuster, communications assistant, American Association of Poison Control Centers; and Wendy Stephan, health education coordinator, Florida Poison Information Center – Miami

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, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline is staffed by specially trained medical experts – including doctors, nurses and pharmacists – who 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 the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center.

One thought on “Stop Searching! Just Call!

  1. If we are ever going to elevate the position of the Certified Specialist in Poison Information, perhaps we should quit refering to “the doctors, nurses and pharmacists” who work at Poison Centers and educate the public about the expertise of the Poison Specialists.

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