September is suicide prevention awareness month and is a good time to bring to light the mental health crisis that has grown in every community since the beginning of the pandemic. While mental health struggles have always existed, we are seeing more and more people speaking out about the issues that used to remain in the dark.

Since the beginning of the pandemic the nation has seen a rise in the number of cases of attempted suicides and completed suicides. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center has seen an almost 200% increase in the number of calls received related to intentional harm ingestions.
The Poison Center would like to help by providing this resource guide. Add these numbers to your phone, give them to your teens, adults, elderly, or anyone struggling with mental health, to be able to speak to or text someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255 or 988
Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio – 1-888-628-9454
Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255
Boys Town National Hotline – 1-800-448-3000 or text “VOICE” to 20121
LGBTQ National Hotline – 1-888-843-4564 or text “TALK” to 741741

If suicide has touched your life and you or someone you know is in need of support, please go to The Kim Foundation website at for resources near you.

If you or someone you know has ingested too much medication, the wrong medication, or need poison help, call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 to speak to one of our experts immediately.

Poison Center Tips for Back-to-School 

For all kids, returning to school is full of possibilities, but it can also be full of potential dangers. By talking to your children about substances that can harm them, you can help them get the best experience during their school age years. Here are a few of the potential dangers:


Hand sanitizers and food safety: with back-to-school lunches be sure to encourage hand washing and good hygiene, and when water and soap are not accessible, hand sanitizer is a good option. Remind young children that hand sanitizer is for hands only, and not to ingest it. Many hand sanitizers contain alcohol and other antibacterial additives that can cause irritation and stomach upset. Call your Poison Center if your child ingests these products. Practice food safety with proper refrigeration of foods and be conscious of packing lunches with foods such as meat and cheese products that may easily spoil, ensure adequate freezer packs are included.
Energy Drinks: can contain large doses of caffeine. Students may use these to cram during late-night study sessions, and some products contain additional stimulants promoted to increase energy, enhance mood and delay sleep. The amount of caffeine in many energy drinks is much greater than the amount found in soda and is often much greater than the amount found in a cup of coffee, posing a far greater risk of caffeine overdose and related health problems. Caffeine powders and over-the-counter energy pills can cause symptoms of stomach upset, shakiness, restlessness, sweating, headache, and may progress to seizures. Many energy drinks are consumed by teens participating in sports activities because they are believed to boost performance and to replenish fluids. These products actually increase dehydration, which can be very dangerous in outdoor sports practices, especially in areas in which higher outdoor temperatures are common.


Vaping: A vaporizer that stimulates smoking, also known as an e-cigarette, can contain more than just nicotine. Added flavorings, propylene glycol, glycerin, additives, and other contaminants are all elements of e-cigarettes. According to the National Youth Tobacco survey, vaping has steadily increased in middle school through high school students since 2013. There is heavily marketed misconception that e-cigarettes are safer then smoking an actual cigarette, and a growing body of evidence that using e-cigarettes also leads to increased use of marijuana. Vaping can increase addiction, cause breathing irritation, blurry vision, cough, chest pain, and stomach upset. Nicotine poisoning can cause stomach pain,

salivation, faster heart rate, and seizures. There is also an increased risk of the device to explode due to battery temperature increase, causing injury and harm. The long-term effects to the vapor additives are unknown, and the potential risk of carcinogens.


Prescription Medication: Prescribed and used correctly, prescription drugs have legitimate uses and positive results. But prescription pain medicine, also known as opioids, are commonly misused and abused among all age groups. Opioids can slow the body’s systems down to the point where a person stops breathing.  Other potential dangers include ADHD drugs which are abused as “brain boosters” or “academic enhancers.” Misusing or abusing them could lead to an increased heart rate, agitation, difficulty breathing, and seizures. Teens are increasingly casual about their use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, recreationally abusing them without regard for the potential health impacts. Many times alcohol is used as a chaser, complicating the effects of the drugs. We encourage a frank discussion with your child about the dangers of experimenting with drugs. Please check out our partners at Coalition Rx at for more resources on this topic.

Contact the Nebraska Regional Poison Center for any questions you may have at 1-800-222-1222.


The highest percentage of carbon monoxide exposures occur during the winter months. However, carbon monoxide exposures can happen any time of year, especially during natural disasters and power outages. It is imperative that the citizens understand the dangers, the symptoms and how to prevent poisoning from carbon monoxide.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, shortness of breath and convulsions. The first step in treating carbon monoxide poisoning is getting the victim to fresh air. Then seek medical attention immediately.

Carbon monoxide is a gas produced when fuels burn incompletely. It has no color, taste or smell. The major causes of carbon monoxide poisoning in the summer may include:

• Gas powered generators indoors
• Lack of ventilation in a car
• Using a charcoal grill indoors
• Using propane cooking equipment in enclosed areas (i.e. tents or campers)
• Boat exhaust fumes and onboard generators
• Malfunctioning appliances with pilot lights (i.e. water heater or gas stoves)

The Poison Center offers the following suggestions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
• Inspect all fuel-burning equipment yearly.
• Vent fuel-burning heaters to the outside.
• Do not use a gas-powered equipment indoors without proper ventilation.
• Never use a charcoal grill or hibachi inside.
• Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home.
• Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
• Have the vehicle muffler and tailpipes checked regularly.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble those associated with other health conditions that are common among the elderly, especially in the winter. The carbon monoxide death rate is highest among people greater than 65 years of age.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or if you have any questions, contact the Nebraska Regional Poison Center toll-free at 1-800-222-1222.

Tips for a Safe and Healthy Holiday during the COVID-19 Pandemic


The holiday season is a time for celebration and joy with our friends and families. Due to our current pandemic, there are additional safety guidelines to keep in mind. It is wise to follow all state directed health measures. Research shows that the number of poisoning incidents involving children rises during the holiday season. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center reminds everyone to be mindful of additional items in the home that may cause a poisoning during the holiday season. Here are some tips to keep in mind:


  • If you do have visitors remember that they may bring their medications. 59,000 children go to U.S. emergency departments every year for a poisoning and 48% of these cases involve children accessing grandparents’ medications. When visitors arrive for the holidays, make sure to store their medications out of sight and reach.
  • Avoid storing disinfectants and cleaners on the counter. Storage on the counter may be convenient, but it provides an opportunity for a young child to reach and swallow or spray them on the skin or in the eyes.
  • Disc batteries may be found in toys, games, watches, remotes and musical greeting cards. If swallowed, they can become lodged in the throat and cause serious injury or death if not removed. Also avoid toys that contain magnets since they may be harmful if swallowed.
  • Alcohol is found in holiday drinks, hand sanitizers, and even in perfume and cologne. Remove all items containing alcohol from sight and reach. Remember to empty all ashtrays; only a few cigarette butts can harm a child if swallowed.
  • Lamp oil in candle lamps is frequently used this time of year. These fuels may be colored and look like pretty beverages to small children. It only takes a small amount to cause choking and a chemical pneumonia if it goes into the lung. Aroma and fragrance oils can also be a choking hazard and cause vomiting.
  • Keep small children and animals away from seasonal plants such as mistletoe, holly berries, yew plants and poinsettias. Poinsettias are not the fatal poison that they were once believed to be, but in large amounts they can cause upset stomach.
  • Although holiday tree icicles, tinsel and garland are festive, these items can be a choking hazard if swallowed. Snow sprays help with holiday décor, but the pressurized container may cause eye damage if sprayed directly in the eye. Glitter can be irritating to the eyes and lungs. Snow globes usually contain water and glitter. Some snow globes may also contain glycols, but usually in low concentrations.

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers tips on holiday safety and poison prevention. When you call 1-800-222-1222, you will talk immediately to a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist 24/7/365.


Safety at Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 Pandemic

 The holiday meal and its preparation is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving celebration and safe food handling in the kitchen is very important! There are many more safety guidelines to keep in mind this year due to our current pandemic. It is wise to follow all state directed health measures this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans (48 million) will become ill from a food-borne illness this year. The following tips will help guard against food poisoning.


  • DO ask all kitchen helpers to wash their hands using warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • DO keep turkey in its original wrapping, refrigerated until ready to cook.
  • DO defrost a frozen turkey by refrigeration or cold running water.
  • DO allow one day for every 4-5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator. In a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes.
  • DO use a meat thermometer to check if turkey is done. The turkey should cook until the internal temperature reaches a safe minimum of 165˚ F.
  • DO store the turkey and stuffing separately.
  • DO store leftover turkey in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.
  • DO store leftover stuffing and gravy in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 days.


  • DON’T defrost a turkey at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply to unsafe numbers on outer layers before inner layers have defrosted.
  • DON’T leave an uncooked thawed turkey out of the refrigerator longer than two hours.
  • DON’T rinse your turkey before cooking. Let the cooking process take care of the bacteria and avoid the risk of cross contamination.
  • DON’T set your oven lower than 325˚ F.
  • DON’T prepare food if you are sick or have a nose or eye infection.
  • DON’T leave leftovers out on the counter longer than two hours.
  • DON’T re-freeze a completely thawed uncooked turkey.
  • DON’T stuff turkeys as it makes it difficult for the internal temperature to reach 165°F within a safe period of time. If you must stuff your turkey, stuff it lightly before cooking and leave room for the oven to cook the interior of the turkey and stuffing.


The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is a free community service to the public.

Call 1-800-222-1222 to speak directly with a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist 24/7/365.

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center will unite with the nation’s other 54 poison centers to celebrate the 58th Annual National Poison Prevention Week on March 15-21, 2020, a week dedicated to raising awareness about poisoning in the U.S. and highlighting ways to prevent it. Each year, more than 2 million poisonings are reported to the Nation’s poison centers, which can be reached by calling 1-800-222-1222. The Poison Center is staffed by specially trained health care professionals including Registered Nurses, Pharmacists and Physicians.

Poisons are all around us and can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time of life. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 93 percent of poisonings happen at home, and 45 percent of poisonings involve children under the age of 6. The majority of fatal poisonings occur among adults, especially older adults.  Many poisonings are preventable and expert help is just a phone call away.

Here are some poison prevention tips to protect yourself and your family:

  • Program the toll-free number for the Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) into your cell phone or text “poison” to 797979 to save the contact information. Post the toll-free number visibly in your residence as well.
  • Always put medicines and vitamins away after every use. It may be tempting to keep the medicine handy because you have to give another dose in a few hours, but children are very quick and may attempt to swallow it, so it is best to store out of reach and sight.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • Always use the dosing device that comes with the medicine container.
  • If you have old, unused or expired medication call the Poison Center for assistance in locating a pharmacy that can take medication back.
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Make sure there is one on every level of your home, especially around sleeping areas.  If the CO alarm sounds, leave your home immediately and move to a safe location outside where you can get fresh air.
  • Keep liquid nicotine products and cigarettes out of the reach of children. A small amount can be very poisonous to a child.
  • Be aware of where the disc batteries are in your home. They may be found in remote controls, key fobs, hearing aids, musical cards or books.  Curious toddlers will swallow these readily and are very dangerous if ingested.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach with an acid or an ammonia cleaner may result in a toxic gas.
  • Check your home (including garage) for cleaning supplies, laundry detergent packets, plants, personal care products, alcohol, pesticides, gasoline and medicine. Keep them out of sight or locked up.


The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is a free community service to the public.

When you call 1-800-222-1222, you will speak immediately to a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist 24/7/365.

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is only a phone call away.  Keep our phone number with you and your holiday guests.   Just a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid putting purses near young children when you host, or are at a holiday party. There could be medicine or other poisonous items in purses readily available for a curious toddler.
  • Keep all medicines up high and out of reach.
  • Keep alcoholic beverages out of sight.  When guests leave pour out alcoholic beverages.

Call if you need immediate assistance, or even for questions: 1-800-222-1222.  You can also text “797979” to your smart phone-this will save the 800 number in your contacts.  You will talk immediately to a trained poison center specialist; either a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist.

Tis the season..but please be safe and enjoy this Holiday Season with friends and family!