News Brief: Toll-free hotline simplifies poison emergencies

One national toll-free number simplifies the process of getting help in a poison emergency. Panicked parents and caregivers can call (800) 222-1222, a hotline that links callers from anywhere in the country to medical experts at local poison control centers. The calls are routed to the nearest center based on the caller’s area code. While the local numbers for poison control centers will continue to work, people can’t always find them in an emergency situation. Now people only need to remember one number no matter where they are, whether at home, at work, or traveling.

The poison control centers across the United States handle more than 6,000 calls a day with their poison experts treating about three-quarters of the poison exposures over the telephone. Experts not only help in emergencies, they answer questions about medicines, insect bites, household products, and other potentially dangerous substances.