Posted: January 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
In September 2014, 147 people at North Mac Middle School in Girard, IL, were rushed to local hospitals after being poisoned with carbon monoxide. A gas water heater had malfunctioned (despite passing inspection a few months previous). By law, homes in Illinois are required to have a working carbon monoxide detector—not so for schools. Illinois State Representative Kathleen Willis is trying to change that. She has introduced legislation that would require schools to be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. CO is odorless, colorless and tasteless—that is why a carbon monoxide detector is critical for preventing people from getting sick. With detectors, school officials can be alerted to the presence of CO before kids develop symptoms.
Why is CO so dangerous?
When breathed in, carbon monoxide prevents the body from getting and using oxygen. First, it binds to red blood cells and prevents them from carrying oxygen to cells in tissues throughout the body. CO also binds to the energy-producing components within these cells, so even when oxygen does get to the tissues, the body can’t use it.
Where does CO come from?
Carbon monoxide is produced from the combustion (burning) of carbon-based substances (wood, paper, natural gas, gasoline, coal, cloth, etc). If you have a gas or other fuel-powered furnace, oven, clothes dryer; or a fireplace, your home is producing carbon monoxide. If these appliances are faulty or ventilated improperly, CO poisoning can result. House fires and car exhaust also produce carbon monoxide.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Symptoms of CO poisoning can resemble the flu—headache, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness in mild to moderate poisoning and confusion, loss of consciousness and death in severe poisoning. Some people may have shortness of breath, palpitations or chest pain. Often multiple people and pets are sick at the same time.
What can I do to keep my family safe from CO poisoning?
- Have your fireplace and any fuel-powered appliances checked by a professional regularly. Sometimes heaters that were working perfectly in April do not function properly in November.
- Gasoline powered generators are an especially deadly source of carbon monoxide—one portable generator can produce the same amount of CO as 100 idling cars.
- Never operate a generator in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space such as a basement, garage, barn, or enclosed porch.
- Place generators at least 20 feet away from any doors or windows—buy an appropriate electrical cord that is sufficiently long.
- Do not use cooking equipment such as grills, stoves, ovens, gas camp stoves or hibachis to heat your home.
- Most important—have a working battery-operated CO alarm. Check the batteries frequently and replace the unit before the printed expiration date.
If you have any questions or are concerned about Carbon Monoxide poisoning, call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222 for information and treatment advice.
Posted: December 11th, 2014 | Tags: button battery, dangerous toys, magnet ingestion | No Comments »
Gift giving season is upon us, and most of us have a child on our gift list. There are a few toys that bring out the scrooge in us here at IPC, because of the dangers they pose to children if ingested.
The first problematic item is one that contains a button cell battery. Button cell or disc batteries are coin shaped batteries used in a variety of electronic items such as toys, remote controls, musical greeting cards and hearing aids. Read more »
Posted: November 24th, 2014 | Tags: campylobacter, food borne illness, food poisoning, holiday poisoning, norovirus, perfringens, salmonella, staph, staph poisoning | No Comments »
The holidays are a time of celebration and joy, connecting and reconnecting with friends and family. Many gatherings will have an abundance of food. Holiday feasts however, can be tricky; home chefs are often preparing a meal they don’t normally cook, and they’re preparing it for a larger group than usual. For many parties, different types of foods are often out in the open for extended periods of time. This can set the stage for some types of food borne illness (AKA food poisoning). Read more »
Posted: October 28th, 2014 | Tags: benzodiazepine withdrawal, discontinuation syndrome, medication safety, opioid withdrawal, SSRI, withdrawal | No Comments »
You know that taking too much medication is dangerous. But did you realize that abruptly stopping a medication after taking it regularly can be just as dangerous? Read more »
Posted: September 17th, 2014 | Tags: caustic, lye, unintentional poisoning | No Comments »
Two stories appeared in the news recently, each describing accidental poisonings with chemical cleaners that occurred in restaurants. It’s important to note that cleaning chemicals such as the ones described in these stories can also be found in the home. These incidents can serve as examples of injuries that can happen when poison prevention practices are not followed. Read more »
Posted: August 12th, 2014 | Tags: marijuana, marijuana OD, marijuana overdose, medical marijuana, pot, weed, weed OD | No Comments »
This is a question that was asked on the Illinois Poison Center Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. Up until a year or two ago, I would have said no. Now I am not so sure. Read more »
Posted: July 21st, 2014 | Tags: dosing device, liquid medicine, medication error, milliliter, overdose, tablespoon, teaspoon | No Comments »
Have you ever given your child a liquid medication? If so, there is a pretty good chance that you may have given your child the wrong dose. This topic was the subject of a recently published article in the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study found that approximately 40% of parents made an error in giving liquid medicine! Read more »
Posted: June 17th, 2014 | Tags: antidote, folk remedy, home remedy, induce vomiting, poison, unintentional poisoning | No Comments »
The IPC receives about 80,000 calls each year regarding poisonings; in 2013 over 50,000 of those were calling from their home about an exposure that occurred there. Luckily, we were able to keep 90% of those people at home, without the need to go to an emergency room or doctor’s office for their exposure. That is part of what we do here at the IPC—determine which 90% will do just fine with no treatment and which 10% need to be evaluated by a healthcare professional for possible treatment.
If you or your child has ingested a potentially harmful substance in your home, the first instinct often is to do something or give something in an attempt to counteract or reverse the potential poison. This instinct is understandable and explains why there are so many home/folk remedies out there. Unfortunately some of these can be much more dangerous than the substance originally ingested! Read more »
Posted: April 15th, 2014 | Tags: pine-sol, unintentional poisoning, wheel cleaner | No Comments »
Occasionally, the IPC gets a call regarding a family that was inadvertently ‘served’ a poison added to their food by a well-meaning home chef. Most of our case studies relate back to IPC’s core poison prevention messages and this one is no different. Today’s lesson is never store chemicals or cleaning products near food. Read more »
Posted: March 18th, 2014 | Tags: Illinois Poison Center, IPC, lamp oil, methanol, unintentional poisoning, Viagra, wrong container | No Comments »
Today’s case study involves poisoning exposures that occurred because a potentially harmful substance was stored in the wrong container. One of the IPC’s core poison prevention messages is always store chemicals, cleaning products, and medications in their original containers. There are good reasons for this:
- The usage directions are always with the product
- The substance is in a child-resistant container when appropriate
- Everyone knows exactly what the substance is and what it is meant to be used for
Here are some real cases. In sharing these, we hope it will prevent further cases of the wrong container. Read more »
Posted: February 19th, 2014 | Tags: double dose, medication error, medicine | No Comments »
Welcome to the second installment of The Case Files of the IPC. Today’s case study involves taking medicine twice instead of once. It happens to the best of us. The two most common times to take medication is in the morning and at bedtime—times when there are a lot of other things going on. Also, many people take medication every day and popping a pill becomes part of the routine—something you do without really thinking about it. This can lead to forgetfulness—‘wait… did I take this already or didn’t I?’ Read more »
Posted: January 21st, 2014 | Tags: capsaicin, KY jelly, medication error, personal lubricant, Preparation H, toothpaste, topical medication | 1 Comment »
Here at the IPC we get a lot of interesting calls, as you might imagine. We get gross calls, calls about dares, calls about kids, calls about really toxic stuff, and calls about less toxic stuff. It is all just another day at the IPC for our experts, who manage over 80,000 poisoning cases each year. There are lessons to be learned in all of these cases and we’d like to share some with you throughout the next couple of months. Read more »
Posted: December 10th, 2013 | Tags: baking soda, berries, carbon monoxide, children, cleaning products, Illinois Poison Center, lamp oil, mouthwash, muscle rub, natural gas, natural poison, nicotine, poop, top ten, visine | No Comments »
It’s that time of year! No, I’m not talking about the holidays, I’m talking about the ‘best of’ lists that everyone is writing now that 2013 is coming to a close. In honor of the 4th anniversary of the IPC blog, here are our top 10 most popular blogs since 2009: Read more »
Posted: November 27th, 2013 | Tags: Illinois Poison Center, IPC, thanksgiving, Toxikon | No Comments »
It is that time of year where friends and family come together to share a very special holiday: Thanksgiving. As you are celebrating this wonderful time of the year, take a little time out to reflect on the value of the services that IPC provides you year around. Read more »
Posted: November 12th, 2013 | Tags: funding, illinois poison center blog, ipc blog, My Child Ate.., poison center services, technology | 1 Comment »
Future access to poison information services:
The first poison center in the U.S. started in Chicago in 1953 with a lone pharmacist, Louis Gdalman, a stack of carefully crafted index cards and a rotary phone. Over the ensuing years, the index cards became microfiche; microfiche became floppy discs; floppy discs became CDs. The lone pharmacist became several pharmacists, and over time, developed into a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, pharmacists and nurses. The phone however, has remained a constant. Read more »
Posted: October 30th, 2013 | Tags: AAPCC, Deborah Blum, poison, poison history, The Poisoner's Handbook | No Comments »
(from the American Association of Poison Control Centers)
We had the wonderful opportunity to ask Deborah Blum, a New York Times Bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and expert on poison subjects, a few questions. Blum is a self-proclaimed fan of the poison center system and shared her views on everything from science education to poison history. Read More
Posted: October 15th, 2013 | Tags: alcohol, dry ice, glow stick, Halloween, halloween candy, makeup, poison | No Comments »
Halloween is just around the corner and little ghosts and goblins everywhere are gearing up for this night of fright! But parents BEWARE! As we begin to get into the spirit of Halloween, here are some quick pointers to ensure a hauntingly delightful Halloween Read more »
Posted: September 24th, 2013 | Tags: drop boxes, drug disposal, medication disposal, pharmaceuticals | No Comments »
Sometimes the problem of safe medication disposal is one that reminds me of the proverbial saying “stuck between a rock and a hard place”. Read more »
Posted: September 17th, 2013 | No Comments »
The IPC receives calls on almost 74,000 exposure calls per year on a wide variety of different substances—medicines, household cleaners, plants/mushrooms, chemicals, bug bites and stings, food poisoning, recreational drugs, environmental toxins and more. If it’s potentially harmful, you can call the IPC about it! A common question we get is, “What substances do you get called on the most?” Here are the top 3: Read more »
Posted: September 3rd, 2013 | No Comments »
Last week we discussed the ins and outs of the new Illinois medical marijuana bill. Being poison experts, we are naturally interested in the consequences of this law on poison prevention and child safety. How will the medical marijuana law affect kids in Illinois?
To help us answer this question, we searched for any data on accidental marijuana exposures by children in states that already have legalized medical marijuana. Read more »
Posted: August 21st, 2013 | Tags: Illinois Poison Center, IPC, marijuana, medical marijuana, medicinal marijuana, pot, weed | No Comments »
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you have heard about the new Illinois Medical Marijuana bill. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (what a mouthful) was approved on August 1, 2013 making Illinois the 20th state to allow medical marijuana use. Read more »
Posted: August 6th, 2013 | Tags: cyclospora, Illinois Poison Center, IPC, ipc blog, stomach bug | No Comments »
Have you heard about the new stomach bug sweeping the U.S.? Recently, the media has reported an outbreak of a new stomach bug spreading through the Midwest. To date, there have been hundreds of cases of people affected by this critter, with the highest counts occurring in Iowa followed by Texas. Did you know that since this outbreak started in June, there have been 21 people hospitalized?
Read more »
Posted: July 30th, 2013 | Tags: 1-800-222-1222, Illinois Poison Center, IPC, ipc blog, Movies, My Child Ate.., poison prevention | 1 Comment »
Everyone at some point has cringed while watching the Hollywood version of their profession butchered in a movie. For example, law enforcement hates how police are shown jumping rooftops, forensics experts take minutes to find evidence, and attorneys take a couple hours in a courtroom to convict a perpetrator. We in the poison business have the same cringe-worthy moments when watching movies where someone has taken a lethal ingestion but survives due to a ridiculously simple or outrageously dramatic approach to the treatment of a poisoning or overdose. We genuinely fear that the general public will believe in what they are viewing.
Read more »
Posted: July 23rd, 2013 | Tags: Illinois Poison Center, illinois poison center blog, IPC, ipc blog, laundry pods, My Child Ate.. | No Comments »
For the second time in 14 months, Proctor and Gamble (P&G) has changed the packaging of Tide Pods laundry detergent packets in order to reduce the risk of pediatric poisoning with the products. The first change was to modify the closure of the plastic tubs; the latest change is to make the packaging opaque so that curious children cannot see the colorful, candy-like contents and be tempted to open the package.
Read more »
Posted: July 16th, 2013 | Tags: heroin, Illinois Poison Center, illinois poison center blog, IPC, Prescription Drugs | No Comments »
As a child, my mother and I would visit her family near the Panama Canal Zone for summer vacation, and invariably there would be stories of “Sal si puedes” – literally “leave if you can.” Sal si puedes was the derelict and dangerous opium smoking section of Panama City in the late 1800’s and first half of the 20th century. Legend has it the narcotic-laced smoke was so thick that people walking through that area would get a contact high and choose to stay a while; never to leave again for long. It was a place where fortunes, dreams and futures died. Read more »