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Upstate NY Poison Center warns of potential hazards

Posted 9/13/22

School is in full swing and the Upstate New York Poison Center reminds parents and caregivers to talk with children about potential poisons at school.

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Upstate NY Poison Center warns of potential hazards


SYRACUSE — School is in full swing and the Upstate New York Poison Center reminds parents and caregivers to talk with children about potential poisons at school — including the influence of possibly dangerous video trends.

New routines can also mean new distractions which could result in an unintentional or intentional poisoning, the center warns.  

“Each school year brings new poisoning potentials, plus an uptick in calls to our center for medication errors, drug concerns and playground poisoning mishaps,” says Michele Caliva, administrative director of the Upstate New York Poison Center.

“We are prepared for any call that comes our way, but we urge all families to talk with their children about not joining the bandwagon of video trends with potential poisoning risks, why to never take medicine from someone else, and encourage teens to memorize our number and save it in their cell phone: 1-800-222-1222,” the center added.

During the 2021-2022 school year, the poison center managed an alarming number of cases of children and teens who were unintentionally poisoned by pain medicines, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen. In some cases, children have been given an unintentional extra dose while in others children have either found the medicine themselves and took it, or they took the wrong kind/dosage or strength.

For children ages 6 to 12, the top three calls from a parent or caregiver we handled last school year were for pain medicines, cosmetics/personal care products, and antihistamines. For teens 13 – 19, the top three were for pain medicines, antidepressants, and antihistamines. 

“The biggest change in our calls over last school year for the teen age group (13-19), is for intentional poisoning cases,” the center announcement said. “They continue to increase year after year. We encourage you to talk to your child about self-harm and save the new three-digit phone number for Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988.”

Be prepared for school year:

Video trends: With the ever-increasing popularity of various social media channels, so too has come viral trends that can be dangerous to kids and teens. Teach your child(ren) to not take part in any potentially poisonous video challenges they see on channels like YouTube, TikTok or Instagram.

Some children might try to mimic popular video stars, but challenges like the “Benadryl Challenge,” “Tide Pod Challenge” or “Cinnamon Challenge” can lead to poisonings and possibly a hospital visit. 

• Medications: Teach children to never take medicine meant for someone else, it could be a deadly mistake. Keep all medicines up and away from children. Carefully read and follow directions and warnings on all labels before taking or giving medicine.

Schools have medication policies, so be sure to find out what they are and discuss with your child. Consider buying a medication lock box.

School lunch: It is important to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold to prevent food poisoning. Pack appropriate lunch items that will not spoil in a lunch box.

Washing fruits and vegetables beforehand helps remove dirt, bacteria, and pesticides. Encourage children to wash their hands every time before eating.

Playgrounds: Playgrounds can be a breeding ground for poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms. It is hard to tell the difference. Teach children to never pick a mushroom. If they do, wash their hands, and then call us. 


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