“Are there any stories that shock you, anymore?” I’ve asked the poison control nurses and pharmacists. As a public educator for the Oregon Poison Center, I have spent some time in the call room to better understand how the control center works, and the types of calls they receive.
I have yet to encounter such an open-minded, yet experienced group of healthcare experts in my entire career! The Oregon Poison Center staff has the ability to calm down even the most worried of parents, despite hearing the most bizarre stories. I know this firsthand because I called them myself one time. I thought I had taken my dog’s medicine and had given him mine. Within a couple of minutes after speaking to the calm voice of a control center nurse, my anxiety levels went down, and I was able to find both of our pills on the kitchen counter.
Working for the Oregon Poison Center, I never expected I would hear so much about butt creams! “What’s the name of the butt cream your kiddo got into?” One nurse on a call asked. Luckily, the toddler only had a taste of the cream, and was fine. His mother was relieved, and the poison control nurse told her to call anytime with other concerns.
We also get many calls about glow sticks. They are a popular item, and a lot of people use them, especially around Halloween. While these popular sticks are not too toxic, per se, their glowing liquid has the potential to irritate any part of the body that it comes in contact with, and can also (fascinating enough) cause the lips and tongue to glow if gotten inside or near the mouth! Do not be alarmed if this happens, just wipe it off the best you can, and give the poison center a call.
One of the most alarming and worrisome calls we get in the Oregon Poison Center is concerns over e-cigarette liquid. Just hearing about that dangerous substance makes me cringe. Even small amounts like a couple of drops of this nicotine liquid used to refill vaping devices are enough to cause significant illness symptoms in a young child. Always hide that stuff away in a safe, unreachable place for little hands.
The Oregon Poison Center is always available to take your calls and walk you through your concerns. Follow them on Twitter @ORposioncenter, or call them anytime, even if you are not sure if it is serious. They are experts at what they do, and can relieve a lot of unnecessary stress. Unlike a Google search, you always know that by calling the Oregon Poison Center, an expert is giving you advice. Store the number 1-800-222-1222, in your phone under Poison Control Center, and write it down and place it on the refrigerator, in the bathroom, inside the medicine cabinet, and/or anyplace else you or someone in your home can see it in case of emergency.
Fiorella Carhuaz is a full-time educator for the Oregon Poison Center, and an auntie to her coworker’s toddler. She holds a degree in Psychology and Community Health Education. When not at work or reading for work, she finds herself drawing bridal dress sketches. Although not a paid gig, she hopes to one day have a bridal shop full of her designs. She is passionate about her work as a public educator, and feels blessed to have a job where she can help prevent children from getting poisoned. You can find more about Fiorella on Twitter @FiorellaCarhuaz.