Poison Centers Respond to Sandy

Every day, the experts at America’s 57 poison centers work hard to safeguard the health of our friends, neighbors and family members. From calls about curious kids getting into the wrong things to a slithery snake taking a bite into some unsuspecting person’s bare foot, the experts on call spend countless hours keeping the public safe and providing them with the specialized help they need.

Natural disasters can bring with them a variety of unique poisoning concerns. It’s reassuring to know that local poison centers are equipped with the infrastructure  – and the experts – to battle through even the biggest storms.

As Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast in late October, the area’s poison centers continued to field calls as they prepared for the worst, proving once again the resilience of the nation’s poison center network.

When the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System lost its T1 phone line, the center relayed calls to its basic telephone lines and continued providing valuable service without interruption. Some staff members even opted to sleep at the center to ensure that lines were manned at all times.

As the storm progressed and growing numbers of people lost power, poison centers prepared to implement contingency plans in case they too faced a blackout. Centers in unaffected regions were standing by to assist in case of power failure or higher-than-normal call volume.

With widespread power outages and many residents of the affected areas revving up their power generators, the New York Poison Control Center and the Connecticut Poison Center sent out regular messages about carbon monoxide safety, a major concern after large storms like Sandy.

News media widely distributed a press release issued by the American Association of Poison Control Centers that warned of the dangers of misusing power generators. In addition, the AAPCC and local poison centers used social media in hopes of getting the message out to as many people as possible.

While power generators and carbon monoxide poisoning proved to be a major concern, the area’s local poison centers were well aware of the numerous other poisoning dangers that can come with flood waters, contaminated food and interrupted water services. Safety tips and information about all of those concerns were made available to the public.

As poison centers addressed storm-related safety concerns, they didn’t ignore the very real dangers that came with such a major interruption in daily routine. Families that previously locked up medication and cleaners or carefully monitored potentially hazardous materials found themselves completely preoccupied with storm recovery. Local centers reminded them to secure the basics and ensure that their families stayed poison-free through the cleanup.

Emergency or not, a mistaken dosage or a natural disaster, poison centers around the country are equipped and prepared to keep Americans safe.

In any situation, your local poison center is always just one call away at 1-800-222-1222.

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