Poison Related Facts & Myths

Fact or myth? Drink milk if you swallow poison. If you get acid on your skin, you should neutralize it. Child resistant is the same thing as childproof. These are just some of the top five poison-related myths released from the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital.

“Our No. 1 goal is to educate parents about potential poison hazards in and around their home,” said Ashley Webb, board-certified toxicologist and director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center. “We want them to know that if a child or adult is exposed to a poison, the poison control center should be called as soon as possible.”

The Poison control center’s phone number is (800) 222-1222. Everyone is encouraged to program this number into their mobile phones during National Poison Prevention Week. This number works throughout the country and will automatically direct callers to the nearest poison control center. Poison control center services are provided at no direct charge to the public.

Myth 1: If a person accidentally eats or drinks a poisonous substance, he or she should immediately vomit.

— Fact: Forcing someone to vomit is the wrong thing to do. Potentially more serious medical problems can occur from the act of vomiting than from the potential poison, especially if substances make their way into the lungs — a common complication of vomiting. Call the poison control center first to find out the best way to treat the individual.

Myth 2: Drinking milk, ingesting raw eggs or using salt water will counteract any ingested poison.

Fact: Milk is not a magical poison eliminator, and in many cases it can upset an individual’s stomach. Neither raw eggs nor salt water are effective treatments for poison. Plus, raw eggs may make the individual sick, and too much salt water may make the brain swell. Call the poison control center first to find out the best way to treat the individual.

Myth 3: If you get acid on your skin, neutralize it with a base.

Fact: Combining an acid and a base will produce heat. This will cause burns to the skin in addition to any burns caused by the acid. Rinse the area with water and then call the poison control center for further instruction.

Myth 4: Child-resistant locks for cabinets and doors can keep children out of places where potential poisons may be stored.

Fact: Child resistant does not mean childproof. Children have a special knack for figuring things out. Child-resistant locks are certainly helpful, but they should not be the only defense to prevent unintentional poisonings. All potentially harmful substances, including cleaners and detergent pods, medicines, oils/acids/paints and pesticides, to name a few, should be stored where children cannot see or reach them.

Myth 5: The poison control center has receptionists that answer the phone and is only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Fact: Medical professionals with national certification in toxicology answer the phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center. The poison control center number is (800) 222-1222. You may call this number from anywhere in the country and speak to a poison control specialist at the poison control center nearest to you.

Visit the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital website for more information about how to prevent poisoning.

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