Shadowed/eavesdropped on calls today at the California Poison Control Center, which was pretty cool. The center here in SF shares the duties with 3 other centers in the state, operating the 24 hour, toll-free number to answer pretty much any question and either make sure people get the right treatment or some needed reassurance. Each state has its own poison control center and the people are incredibly helpful, knowledgeable and friendly–definitely call if you have any questions.
My one experience with it involved my mother making some sort of pasta or tuna salad, while also getting out some hydrocortisone cream for a rash or something, with a tiny bit of the steroid cream ending up in the bowl. Don’t ask me how this happened. I just remember my brother and I freaking out and SCREAMING for her to throw out the entire bowl of food, not wanting our mother to die. She called poison control and they said it would be fine (she’s a nurse so she knew this anyway) but I think we put up such a fit she tossed it anyway. (Or at least she told us she did.) So everyone does silly things, and children eat everything. No matter how silly, it’s no reason not to call. The call centers have heard everything.
- Dad: Hi, my child just ate some Play-Doh.
Pharmacist: How much?
Dad: Like half a can.
Pharmacist: Okay, he or she should be fine–
Dad: Oh, wait, nevermind, he just had it in his hand.
- Caller: I know this is a line for humans, but my puppy just ate some pills.
Pharmacist: Okay, well, I’d recommend calling your vet. There is a Poison Control Number for Animals, but they charge $55 per call.
- Caller: I made some chicken chili last night, and left it out last night. Can I eat it?
Most calls dealt with toddlers eating pills. One “licked the coating off a bunch of Advil and Tylenol.” One important point: Tylenol is actually incredibly dangerous in overdoses–which is hard to do unintentionally in adults–but isn’t so difficult for small children, since overdoses are generally based on weight. Tylenol in overdose has been bad enough to cause patients to go into liver failure and require a liver transplant. Keep pills out of the reach of kids!
Oh, interesting fact: Those little freshness packets in shoe boxes that say “don’t ingest?” They’re just silica, and non-toxic. It’s like eating sand, apparently. (This is not medical advice!) Update from the comments:: Silica gel, the desiccant in “freshness packets,” isn’t always harmless. Sometimes it’s packaged with a moisture indicator and some of those are quite toxic.