Parents know just how frightening it can be when a child gets into something they shouldn’t.
Whether it’s medication or a household item, the fear is real – and so is the risk. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 33,041 unintentional poisoning deaths.
And accidental exposures are common. One poison exposure is reported to a U.S. poison control center every 15 seconds and the incidents often involve young children, according to the National Capital Poison Center.
Fortunately, parents have a reliable source they can contact anytime they’re concerned about a possible exposure. Children’s Hospital’s Michigan Regional Poison Control Center is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year at 800-222-1222.
“The Poison Control Center is staffed by nurses, pharmacists and physicians, and always has a toxicologist on call,” says Denise Kolakowski, interim education outreach coordinator at the Michigan Regional Poison Control Center.
The center, the only of its kind in Michigan, fields calls from homes, hospitals, schools and other places all across the state.
“Whatever poisoning emergency or potential poisoning emergency you might have, we want people to call us so that we can determine if they really have a poisoning emergency and if they don’t, or who they should be speaking with,” Kolakowski says. “When in doubt, it’s always best to call us so that we can determine how to best help you.”
The service is provided free of charge and can address questions about any possible poison exposure, from household products to plants, lotions, vitamins, carbon monoxide, bug bites, medication and many other concerns.
“It’s important to call the poison control center if you suspect a child has gotten into something,” she says.
Medications, in particular, can be especially dangerous in the wrong hands.
“Medications that are helpful to adults can be very harmful to children,” Kolakowski says.
Depending on the situation, the center’s staff may direct parents to seek medical attention or offer information about items that may not be harmful. Parents should know that there’s no “wrong” reason to call.
“If you’re in doubt, please call us. We’re there to help you,” she says. “That’s our mission.”