Poison Prevention Week (NPPW) is the third full week in March and is dedicated to raising awareness and educating the public about the dangers of poisoning. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center (NRPC) joins with the nation’s 54 other poison centers as we are “Here for the Ages.” Poison Centers have been assisting callers for 60 years. No matter your age, we are here to help.
Remember to add the NRPC’s toll free phone number 1-800-222-1222 by texting the word “poison” to 797979 and this will save in your mobile phone contacts. Please consider ordering free public education materials by visiting the website www.nebraskapoison.com or by calling. Check out the video of Pinky the poison proof elephant as he explains to kids about the danger of poisons in everyday settings. NRPC offers activity sheets and primary age videos, poison proofing tips, as well as educational resources for teens and adults. Pinky coloring books are a free resource and a fun tool for educating young children about poison prevention.
A poison is anything that can harm you if it is used in the wrong way, by the wrong person and in the wrong amount.
Here are a few tips for poison prevention:
• Check your home and garage for personal care items, laundry detergent packets, cleaning supplies, plants, alcohol, pesticides, gasoline and medicine and keep them out of sight or locked up. Never put harmful chemicals in other containers such as water bottles.
• Never refer to medicine as “candy.” Put medicines including vitamins up and away after every use. Read all labels carefully on medicine and household products.
• Never mix household products together. Keep liquid nicotine and cigarettes out the reach of children. Be aware that many product labels look like candy or other liquids that can entice kids, keep these up out of reach or locked up safely.
Since poisons are all around us and can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time of life, our goal is to protect each other by incorporating safe poison prevention measures.
The Poison Center is available for everyone, our number you never outgrow!
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 holiday season is a time for celebration and joy with our friends and families. Research shows that the number of poisoning incidents involving children rises during the holiday season. The Nebraska Regional Poison offers tips for holiday safety and poison prevention.
• MEDICATIONS -If you have visitors remember that they may bring their medications. Make sure they store their medications out of sight and out of reach of children and animals.
• CLEANING PRODUCTS -Avoid storing disinfectants and cleaners on the counter. Storage on the counter may be convenient, but it provides an opportunity for a child to reach and swallow or spray them on the skin or in the eyes. If stored in a cabinet make sure it has a childproof lock.
• ALCOHOL -Alcohol is found in holiday drinks, hand sanitizers, and even in perfume and cologne. Remove items containing alcohol from sight and reach.
• NICOTINE -Nicotine containing products such as cigarettes, vape liquid, and chewing tobacco are harmful if ingested. Many now are in containers that look or smell like nonharmful items that children use every day. These products may cause shakiness, vomiting or seizures.
• FOOD -When using frozen meats and other items to cook, be sure to thaw them in the refrigerator. Remember, larger items such as turkeys may take several days to thaw. Do not thaw on countertops as this may increase the risk of food poisoning.
• FOOD STORAGE -When the meal is complete, be sure to put food away in the refrigerator or freezer. Many food items should not be a room temp for more than 2 hours. At room temperature bacteria grows very quickly and may cause illness.
• PLANTS-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.
When you call 1-800-222-1222, you will talk immediately to a Registered Nurse 24/7/365.
Opioid medications are prescribed to treat pain from real and often debilitating conditions. When opioids are used incorrectly or by someone they are not intended for it can have potential deadly effects. The National Center for Drug Abuse and Statistics states that opioids are a factor in 7 out of every 10 overdose deaths. Deaths related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased 10% in the past year. According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Nebraska’s drug overdose death rate has doubled in the last 15 years.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) cautions “the only safe medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Any pills that do not meet this standard are unsafe and potentially deadly.” The Poison Center partners with local organizations to help promote awareness and provide education as well as to answer questions at any time. The Poison Center nurses can answer questions about medications, overdoses, errors in dosing, as well as assist in drug identification and disposal. Call us at 1-800-222-1222.
There is an antidote for opioid overdose, and all 50 states have made naloxone available to anyone who is concerned about their own use of an opioid or for any other person who is using an opioid for any reason. Did you know you can go to any participating pharmacy in Nebraska and ask the pharmacist for naloxone? Any Nebraska resident can access this after completing a short assessment to ensure eligibility at participating pharmacies. If you go to a pharmacy that is not participating, you will need to discuss billing with the pharmacist.
If you or someone you know has been using opioids and you note any of the symptoms below, please call 9-1-1:
- Unresponsive or unconscious individuals
- Not breathing or slow/shallow breaths
- Extreme sleepiness with difficulty staying awake, seizures
In Nebraska you can call 2-1-1 to access free counseling, treatment programs and other information. Please see the additional resources below.
- Opioid and Opiate Addiction Hotline: 24/7 at 888-625-6416
- Coalition Rx: coalitionrx.org or call 402-871-5622
- US Drug Enforcement Administration: One Pill Can Kill (dea.gov)
- Nebraska Family helpline: 24/7 at 888-866-8660
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 para Español
- Nebraska MEDS Coalition For Drug Disposal website: https://www.nebraskameds.org
Currently Active: Current and future pharmacies offering naloxone at no charge are listed at the website below. More participating pharmacies are being added to the list everyday so be sure to check here before going to a pharmacy.
The Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers some Do’s and Don’ts to guide your holiday planning. Don’t let food poisoning ruin your Thanksgiving celebration. Do keep this guide handy to use as a reference.
• 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. A 24-pound turkey may take up to 6 days to thaw so plan accordingly.
• 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.
• DO go to the Butterball website at www.butterball.com , call 1-800-BUTTERBALL or text 844-877-3456 to chat with one of their turkey experts for other tips and tricks. You can even ask “Alexa” to “Ask Butterball” a question on Alexa enabled devices.
• DON’T defrost a turkey at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply to unsafe numbers on outer layers before inner layers have defrosted. These bacteria can cause illness in you or your guests.
• DON’T leave an uncooked thawed turkey out of the refrigerator longer than two hours.
• 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 24/7/365.
Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for children, and the staff at the Poison Center would like to remind parents and care givers to take some simple precautions to make sure that everyone has a safe and happy Halloween. Here are a few tips to know about these tricks!
• Glow sticks can cause a stinging and a burning sensation if the liquid comes into contact with the mouth or eyes. Be careful when children put these in their mouths as they are soft to chew on and can easily break open. If this happens, rinse with water and call the Poison Center.
• When children trick-or-treat, treats should be carefully checked by adults. Homemade treats or anything out of its original wrapper should be thrown away unless parents are positive of the identity of the person from which it came.
• Marijuana edibles can be found in many shapes and sizes and they resemble traditional candies in their names and packaging. This is another good reason to check all your children’s candy when they get home.
• Costumes should be warm, well-fitting and non-flammable. Masks should allow adequate vision and should be removed while children are crossing streets. Make sure children are accompanied by an adult and take a flashlight along if it is dark.
• Use nontoxic face paint as an alternative to masks. All makeup and fluorescent hair sprays should be removed before going to bed. Consider using reflective tape on costumes worn after dark.
• Serving punch containing dry ice is not considered dangerous if the ice is not swallowed in its solid form. Small pieces should not be put in individual glasses. Frostbite can occur if dry ice touches the skin or mouth.
• Chocolate and xylitol are very poisonous to dogs. Xylitol is the sweetener found in sugar free candies and gum. Store all candy up and out of reach of dogs and other pets.
The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is a free and confidential service to the public.
Call 1-800-222-1222 to immediately talk with a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist 24/7/365.
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 www.thekimfoundation.org 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 www.coalitionrx.org 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.