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Poison Control Dos and Don’ts: Tide Pods, Nyquil Chicken and More

By Logan Helge, APRN January 15, 2023 Posted in: Pediatrics, Parenting

It’s every parent’s “Oh no!” moment. Your child ingests something they shouldn’t, like a cleaning solution or medication. Or maybe you accidentally gave a second dose of acetaminophen to your sick child when you should have alternated with ibuprofen.

How Common Are Accidental Poisonings?

It happens, and you’re not alone. Thousands of children are seen in emergency rooms every year for accidental poisonings.

Now with social media, parents have the added concern of what kids may be influenced to try – such as eating Tide pods. More recently, there’s been a “One Chip Challenge” with extremely spicy tortilla chips and the more dangerous “Nyquil Chicken” trend.

In addition, the legalization of marijuana in many states, and sale of cannabis in candy form, has given rise to this alarming statistic: 1,375% more kids age 5 and under ingested marijuana edibles in 2021 compared to 2017, according to the journal Pediatrics.(1)

What Should I Do if My Child Ingests Poison?

No matter how well you’ve child-proofed your home, or how old your child is, it’s essential to know what to do in that “Oh no!” moment. Be ready with these Dos and Don’ts:

Be Educated

  • Do put the Poison Control app (webPOISONCONTROL) on your smartphone before you need it.
    • Using simple questions, it helps you decide what to do for substances that are swallowed, inhaled, injected or splashed on eyes/skin.
    • A study by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine2 found that the app is safe, quick and easy to use.

When to Call the Poison Control Hotline

  • Do call the Poison Control hotline (1 (800) 222-1222) immediately if you don’t use the app.

Listen to Healthcare Advice

  • Don’t reach for ipecac syrup. You should never induce vomiting unless specifically instructed by a health care professional.

Call 911 in an Emergency

  • Do call 911 for obvious signs of distress, such as:
    • Stopping breathing
    • Collapsing
    • Having a seizure

Be As Accurate as Possible

  • Don’t hold back information. Be completely honest about what your child has ingested and how much. Health care professionals will not judge you, and we need accurate information to properly treat your child.

Download the Poison Control App

The good news is the worst case scenario is becoming less common. From 2018 to 2020, an average of 31 children died from unintentional poisonings in the US, which is a 70% decline from 1972.(3) Still, one is too many. So if you haven’t loaded that app yet (webPOISONCONTROL), do it now. You never know when it might come in handy.

For any additional questions or needs, reach out to a CHI Health Family Medicine provider.





Logan Helge, APRN
Logan Helge, APRN

Logan Helge, APRN, is an advanced practice registered nurse at CHI Health.

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