Spider and snake bites, wild mushrooms or household cleaners. Can you identify the potentially poisonous substance? They all could be, but if you are unsure, answers are only a phone call away. To help raise awareness about the West Virginia Poison Center, second-year pharmacy students at West Virginia University teamed with the WVPC to observe National Poison Prevention Week, March 14-20.

The pharmacy students created Poison Center awareness posters for pediatricians’ offices. The theme, “Poisoned? Not Sure?” stresses the importance of contacting the WVPC with any questions about potential accidental poisonings.

“We worked with the West Virginia Poison Center to create this poster which tells parents what they can do if they think their child might have come into contact with a poison,” pharmacy student Derek Rhodes said.

Data collected by the WVPC between 2001 and 2006 showed that 80 percent of children under 6 years old who were taken to the emergency room for a poisoning could have been taken care of at home instead.

“Finding that your child may have taken a medication, swallowed a cleaning liquid or eaten something they found in the wild is cause for anyone to panic,” Rhodes said. “But contacting the WVPC first, even if you are unsure something is a poison, can provide you with the information and follow-up you need to ensure your child is okay and receives any necessary treatment.”

The students targeted West Virginia pediatric offices to distribute the “Poisoned? Not Sure?” posters because most reported accidental poisonings occur with young children.

“Children are curious,” Rhodes said. “They may see a bottle of liquid and think it’s OK to drink it, or they may really like the taste of their toothpaste and decide to eat it. Kids will be kids, but it’s important for parents to know who to call when things like this happen.”

The West Virginia Poison Center, located in Charleston, provides comprehensive emergency poison information, prevention and educational resources to West Virginians 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls to the WVPC are confidential, free and answered by a health care professional who is specially trained in the management of poisoning emergencies.

The toll-free phone number for the Poison Center is 1-800-222-1222.


CONTACT: Amy Newton, School of Pharmacy
304-293-7192; anewton@hsc.wvu.edu