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  February 4, 2002

For Poison Information, Call
the New National Hotline
By Jane Shaskan

The Connecticut Poison Control Center at the Health Center has joined 64 other poison prevention centers across the country in sharing one hotline number 1 (800) 222-1222 for poison emergencies, prevention, treatment and advice.

"Life-saving information is now more readily accessible," says Marc J. Bayer, director of the Connecticut Poison Control Center. "From a poisoning at home to a chemical disaster, poison prevention specialists are ready to help."

Local Expertise
Dr. Bayer explains that from anywhere in the country, calling 1 (800) 222-1222 puts you in touch with a specially trained nurse, pharmacist or physician at the nearest poison control center. These trained professionals respond to poison emergencies and answer poison-related questions about medications, household products, and other potentially dangerous substances. In Connecticut, callers will be connected to the Connecticut center.

"Local poison prevention experts will be the most familiar with community concerns and health care, and therefore the best equipped to help callers within the region," he said. "It's our hope that everyone will soon know to call 1 (800) 222-1222 for poison treatment and prevention information."

Kelly Hahn of Colchester learned from experience how important it is to know where to call for poison information. With her three young children nearby, she told her story Jan. 30 at a press conference at the Health Center to announce the new number.

On Christmas Day, her husband Luther phoned the Connecticut Poison Control Center when they suspected their 19-month-old son Ethan had ingested a half-bottle of cold medication.

As luck would have it, the previous week she had been helping her 10-year-old daughter Rachel with a school project and needed the poison control center phone number. Hahn said they couldn't find it in the phone book and finally got the number off the Internet.

She said she was glad to have it handy when the emergency happened: "I wouldn't have wanted to spend that kind of time looking for a phone number during an emergency."

Her husband spoke with poison prevention specialist Laura Caperino-Crea n, who determined that Ethan would be just fine.

Caperino-Crean said it has not been unusual for people to have difficulty finding the number. "It's inside every phone directory on the first page, along with 911 and other emergency numbers, but not everybody knows that. It's also listed alphabetically under Poison Control Center. But if you're looking for Connecticut Poison Control Center, you won't find it there either," she said. "And calling 411 can get you an out-of-state poison center, because operators aren't necessarily in Connecticut."

"Poison centers across the country have been lobbying for this national hotline for many years," she added. "We're all thrilled it's finally happened."

Easy to Remember
Bayer said "the fact that anyone, anywhere in the country can reach a poison control center by calling the same number is reassuring to us all. In an emergency, when every second counts, a phone number that is easy to remember can help save more lives.

Lt.-Gov. Jodi Rell was the guest speaker at the press conference. She was introduced by Peter J. Deckers, vice president for health affairs at the Health Center.

A national campaign is under way to promote the hotline number. It is sponsored by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in accordance with the Poison Control Center Enhancement and Awareness Act, which was approved by Congress in February 2000.

For information about poison prevention and potential poison hazards commonly found in homes, visit the website http://poisoncontrol Connecticut residents may request a free phone sticker or magnet by calling (860) 679-3531.

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