Poison Control During the Holidays

The holidays are a great time to get together with family and friends. Visitors, especially children, are curious and may like to what is in your house. Unfortunately, they may be exposed to chemicals and medicines that can be harmful. If a chemical emergency happens, one must take steps to protect all concerned. To get help and specific guidance for an event, remember to call poison control at:


There are 55 poison control centers that service all of the United States. Poison centers are staffed 24/7/365 by medical professionals trained in poison emergencies. Poison centers serve an important dual-role both as part of the public health infrastructure in the United States and as a service offering individual patient care assessment and management recommendations. According to the National Institutes of Health, “The objective of poison centers is to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with poisonings.  Poisons can include exposures to medications, supplements, illicit drugs, household, and industrial chemicals, environmental toxins, plants, and venomous insects and animals.”
Since the first poison control center was opened in Chicago in 1953, their role has greatly expanded. Shortly afterward similar poison control centers were created in other areas of the country. It was also recognized that a standardized collection and dissemination of information system was needed for the various centers. 
Some important improvements in the system include:
·      In 1958 the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) was established.
·      By 1978 the United States had 661 poison centers, but due to the lack of consistency, the AAPCC called for fewer and better staffed and organized regional centers.
·      The Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS) came into being in 1985 which allowed poison centers to share uniformly collected data for “toxicosurveillance”.
·      A toll-free number (1-800-222-1222) that routed phone calls to local, regional poison centers based on the caller’s zip code was started in 2001. 
·      In 2006 the National Poison Database System (NPDS) replaced TESS, which provided a more robust data collection, transmission, and analysis for all poison centers and their partners. NPDS is the current database in use today by all 55 poison centers and continues to serve an important role in poison center and public health operations.

The poison control centers are part of an invaluable system that should be used in case of an emergency. The phone number should be in an easily accessible location. Have a safe and healthy holiday season.

There is also an animal poison control number run by the ASPCA.

 (888) 426-4435

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