Poisoning trails vehicle accidents as a cause of death, according to information from the Tennessee Poison Center.
March 18-24 is poison prevention week in Tennessee.
The Poison Center, located on the Vanderbilt University Medical Center campus, is “committed to the prevention of poisonings in the home, the workplace and the environment.”
The center provides advice for the “treatment of exposures to drug, chemical, plant or envenomation.” More than 127,000 people were helped last year by the Tennessee Poison Center.
Statistics from 2009, show 46,000 poisonings were reported in the state. Ninety percent of those poisonings occurred in the home. Approximately 76 percent of the poison calls to the center involved the accidental poisoning of children under the age of 6.
The center provides a medical telephone hotline — 1-800-222-1222 — for poison emergency and information calls. The hotline is manned by registered nurses, pharmacists and physicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The hotline poison specialists can give first aid treatment advice or hospital referral and answers to poison questions.
The specialists have a medical backup of three board-certified toxicologists.
Since 2011, the calls to the poison hotline have increased from 43,208 calls to 102,994. The center answers between 250 and 300 calls each day.
Since more than 70 percent of poisoning exposures occur in the home, the hotline center also provides educational programs through a partnership with the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service educators.
During 2011, the center distributed more than 600,000 pieces of poison control information to Tennessee residents.
The most common substance inquiries included analgesics (pain relievers); cosmetic and person care products; household cleaning products; cough and cold medications; sedative/hynotics and antipsychotics; pesticide; antidepressants; cardiovascular medications; mushrooms and plants; and vitamins.
Another function of the Poison Center is the surveillance for chemical and biological terrorism. The center, which is a part of the state homeland security program, sends data to Washington, D.C., on bioterrorism incidents.
The Tennessee Poison Center offers 10 ways to help poison-proof your home.
1. Keep the poison help number on or near all phones. It’s fast, free, private and available 24/7. The number is 1-800-222-1222.
2. Keep cosmetics, personal care products, prescription and over-the-counter medicines, cleaning products, dietary supplements and vitamins, pesticides and lighter fluid, locked up or out of reach of youngsters. Be sure household plants are out of reach.
3. Keep cleaning products, gasoline, lighter fluid, antifreeze, paint and paint thinners in the containers in which they came.
4. Never put something that is not food in a food or beverage container, such as a soda bottle, cup or glass.
5. Do not store food and household cleaners in the same cabinet; they often look alike.
6. If you are a grandparent visiting or caring for a youngster, put purses or bags that might contain medication where a child can’t reach.
7. Put smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in the home, and make sure they work. Change the batteries every six months.
8. Never call medicine candy.
9. Do not take medicine in front of children. They love to do what adults do.
10. Objects that use small batteries, like toys or remotes, should be kept out of reach of very young children. Disc batteries are both poisonous and a choking hazard.