Newswise — The Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center (DPIC) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is a 24-hour emergency and information telephone service for anyone with concerns about poisons or drugs. In 2016, DPIC received more than 85,000 calls for assistance.

The best way to be prepared for poison emergencies is by programming the Poison Help number into your phone, 1-800-222-1222. New this year, you can text poison to 797979 and receive a vCard (electronic business card) that will automatically enter the number into your contact list of your phone free of charge.

“Accidental poisonings continue to be a leading public health problem,” said Earl Siegel, PharmD and DPIC managing director. “Poisonings can happen to anyone at any time. Our center’s trained staff, which includes doctors, nurses and pharmacists, are available 24/7 to take your call and help with a variety of issues from medication mistakes to poisonous outdoor exposures.”

While poisonings can happen at work, school, outdoors, and anywhere else, the majority of human exposures occur at home. From the garage to the bathroom to the attic, hundreds of toxic chemicals and substances are stored in our homes. Even some of the more common household items can be poisonous to children, such as laundry products, plants, and personal care products.

Follow a few simple steps to ensure that your home is safe from poisons: • Put all of the medicine in your home up, away, and out of sight. • Safely dispose of expired or unneeded medications. • Install and regularly check carbon monoxide detectors in your home. • Be aware of where the button batteries are in your home (remote controls, key fobs, watches, etc.) and keep these objects secure or away from children. • Make sure all cleaning products are stored in their original containers. Store these containers up high and out of reach of children.• Save the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone, and post it in your home for babysitters and visitors.

While half of the exposure cases managed by poison centers in 2015 involved children, many of the more serious cases occurred among adolescents and adults. From children to seniors, poison prevention is for everyone. By taking a few precautions, you can help keep you and your loved ones safe from poison emergencies.