Attention parents: You should have the number to Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) near all the phones in your home and program it into your smartphones, because you'll need it in the event of a poisoning.

It is an unfortunate fact of the world we live in that poisoning is a looming threat to the well being of our family. Especially considering the increasing number of chemicals, compounds, and prescription medication that have become a regular part of modern life. This makes it all the more important for parents to be aware of these dangers and know what to do in the event of an accident, particularly if you have young children.

In the event of a poisoning or a suspected poisoning, the following steps (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poison Help website) should be taken.

1. Don't Panic

Stay calm and know that not all compounds are poisonous and not all exposures result in poisoning. Conversely, some seemingly innocuous products – including toothpaste – can be toxic in large quantities.

2. Call Poison Control

When a suspected poisoning occurs, call the Poison Helpline (1-800-222-1222) right away and speak to a poison expert. Do not wait for symptoms to appear.

3. Call 911

If the person is not breathing, call 911.

4. Determine How the Poison Exposure Occurred

  • If inhaled, get the person into the fresh air immediately
  • If poison is to the skin, remove any clothes and rinse with water for 15 to 20 minutes
  • If poison is to the eyes, flush eyes with running water for 15 to 20 minutes

5. Avoid Activated Charcoal

Do not give activated charcoal. It is not necessarily safe for children and can cause serious side effects.

6. Have the Proper Info Ready

Have as much of the following information on hand when you call:

  • The suspected poison container (the label has important information)
  • The age and weight of the exposed person
  • As much of his or her health history as possible
  • The type of exposure (swallowed, inhaled, in the skin or eyes)
  • The time of the poisoning
  • Physiological symptoms, i.e., vomiting, pain, dizziness
  • Your exact location

Timing is important in any poisoning situation, so if it occurs, call immediately and be prepared to act quickly if necessary.

Parents should make sure that they properly store chemicals and medication in their homes in order to help protect their family from poisoning and hopefully avoid it altogether.

To learn more about poison prevention, visit the website for PoisonPrevention.org. To find out what you can do to help your community, spend some time at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poison Help website.