It’s ironic that a character meant to tell children to stay away from toxic chemicals has actually become something of a beloved figure. When my mother began working for the Poison Control center in Pittsburgh, my own daughter, 13, begged for Mr. Yuk stickers more intently than she did for an iPhone.
Still, the poison control center is far more than Mr. Yuk, but is instead an incredible system which saves lives and money. Here just five things you may not about your local Poison Center.
There are 57 poison centers across the United States, all accessible from a single toll-free phone number (1-800-222-1222). Because they are located in every state, the person on the other end of the line can not only provide you with information about poisoning but also where to go to get medical help if you don’t know.
They Save Time and Money
If a four-year-old were to drink an entire bottle of flavored Ibuprofen, any parent would want to take a trip to the ER to ensure their child is safe. However, a quick call to the Poison Center can save you that time and expense. They will be able to tell you if the amount consumed poses a threat to your child. Also it’s estimated that every dollar spent on Poison Centers saves nearly $14 in unnecessary health costs.
They Aren’t Just For Us
In a lot of cases, doctors and nurses in hospitals across the nation rely on the experts staffing the phones at the poison center to determine the best way to treat patients who’ve been exposed to toxic substances.
They Save Lives
While the majority of the 3.6 million calls to Poison Centers each year don’t result in visits to the ER or the doctor, some of the do. Nearly half a million people went to the ER after calling the poison center because their lives were in danger. More than 40,000 people die each year from unintended poisoning, but that number would be higher without Poison Centers.
They Are In Danger of Vanishing
With the national belt-tightening happening in America, Poison Center-funding dropped “from $30 million in fiscal year 2010 to less than $19 million in 2014,” according to the Bangor Daily News. While they also accept private contracts, from hospitals to companies like Bayer who have an exclusive number for their customers, this is not enough for the already stretched-thin poison centers to keep up their high level of service.
The Poison Control hotline can be parents’ best friend in a crisis. If you’ve had an experience with the Poison Center, let us know in the comments below!
Source for Poison Control statistics:
American Association of Poison Control Centers