California Poison Control System (CPCS), the largest single provider of poison control services in the United States, recently observed National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW). CPCS manages poisoning cases or questions related to topics such as medications, chemicals, drugs, pesticides, work-related hazards, poisonous plants, spiders and snakes. The 2021 theme is Prepare. Protect. Prevent. Each year, more than 60,000 visits to emergency rooms and doctor offices are averted because parents and families call CPCS first.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, every 13 seconds a U.S. poison control center answers a call about a possible poisoning. Poisonings are a significant health problem in California, resulting in 251,079 calls in 2019 — this figure includes informational and human exposure calls. While poisoning exposures can happen to anyone, about 80 percent of all calls are made from the home, and nearly half of these calls involve children under age five.
The most common causes of poisoning among young children are cosmetics and personal care products. In most cases, a poison exposure can be safely managed at home, avoiding a call to 911 or a visit to a crowded hospital emergency room. Experts are available to answer questions any time, not just for emergencies. Each year, more than 60,000 visits to emergency rooms and doctor offices are averted because parents and families call CPCS first.
“It’s critical that information about how to prevent poisoning becomes more widely known and disseminated,” said Stuart E. Heard, Pharm.D., Executive Director, CPCS. “That is why CPCS would like to remind everyone about the free preventive and lifesaving services it offers.”
These include: The CPCS toll-free number 1-800-222-1222 is answered quickly by pharmacists, nurses and poison information providers. Callers throughout California receive expert treatment advice and referral in cases of exposure to poisonous or toxic substances free of charge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are handled confidentially.
Interpreters for more than 100 languages are available at all times.
Choose Your Poison is a free online game that can be played with the whole family. Can you tell the difference between pills and candy?
CPCS provides news, tips and poison prevention facts on its Facebook and Twitter pages. Connect to learn more.
The Pesticide Safety Project gives communities ways to help farm workers learn how to protect themselves from poison and pesticide exposure.
For more information about California Poison Control, visit www.calpoison.org. In case of an accidental poisoning, immediately call 1-800-222-1222 (this number works in all states) for advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. CPCS also conducts public health surveillance and acts as a community sentinel notifying local and state agencies, the media and the public of potential health threats. The CPCS has four divisions located at UC Davis Medical Center; Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital; Valley Children’s Hospital; and UC San Diego Medical Center. The CPCS is part of the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy and responsible to the California Emergency Medical Services Authority.