The New Jersey Poison Control Center and poison control centers around the country are celebrating National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), observed March 21-27.
This week is dedicated to promoting the importance of recognizing poisoning risks, preventing poisoning exposures, and raising awareness about the life-saving services the nation’s network of 55 poison control centers provide to callers on the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
The Poison Help Hotline is available 24/7 anywhere in the U.S. and connects callers to their local poison control center. Toxicology specialists including nurses, pharmacists, and physicians provide callers with free confidential medical advice, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“When life happens, calling your local poison control center for help can make a difference between a mild health effect and a serious one, ” Bruce Ruck, Managing Director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center, said. “Our medical staff’s expertise and immediate response help to eliminate unnecessary trips to the hospital by managing most poison exposures over the phone.”
Last year, the NJ Poison Control Center provided medical information and treatment advice to nearly 50,000 callers. In addition to helping the general public, our staff regularly consults with healthcare providers in emergency departments and hospitals to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Studies show patients hospitalized after a poisoning exposure with poison center assistance spend fewer days in the hospital than patients hospitalized without poison center assistance.
“When the public first thinks of a poison control center, many believe our services only apply to little ones who get into cleaners under the sink,” Ruck said. “In fact, each day our center helps callers of all ages, in any language, and for all types of poisoning exposures. It’s not just about medicines, chemicals, and substances; it’s also food poisoning, carbon monoxide, bites and stings, drug overdoses, plant exposures, and foreign bodies such as coins, magnets, and batteries.”
In January 2020, the NJ Poison Center was called upon to assist in the fight against COVID-19. Even before cases of COVID were reported in the Garden State, the Poison Center launched the NJ COVID-19 Information Hotline.
Since that time, the poison control center’s medical staff and public health professionals have assisted over 96,000 additional callers to provide up-to-date, unbiased, accurate information as well as medical guidance and links to services.
The hotline has been a successful collaboration with the NJ Department of Health and a vital part of the State's COVID response team.
The New Jersey Poison Control Center, the American Association of Poison Control Centers, and Poison Control Centers across the U.S. have created virtual programs, activities, and content to engage all ages while working or learning from home. There’s something for everyone!
The poison center’s education department is dedicated to taking an active role in community outreach across New Jersey — staff and trainers/volunteers are available to provide virtual poison safety programs, prevention education materials, and attend virtual community events. Requests for community programs and education materials may be submitted here.
New Jersey residents with poison-related questions or emergencies should call the poison center’s Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222; Text (973-339-0702); Chat via the Poison Center’s website.
If someone is unconscious, not breathing, hard to wake up, or having a seizure, immediately call 9-1-1.