While poisonings include ingestion of household products, prescription medicine overdoses are an increasing problem.
On average, drug overdoses kill around 1,500 people in the state annually.
Josephine Darwin, director of community outreach for the Tennessee Poison Center, said adding to the problem is the growing use of opioids among the state’s citizens.
“That is a big problem in Tennessee,” she states. “In fact, now in Tennessee more residents have prescriptions to opioids than smoke tobacco.”
Darwin said the bright colors and shiny pills of opioids and other harmful drugs also make them more attractive to children.
Anyone is encouraged to call 800-222-1222 if they suspect a poisoning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day opioid misuse sends about 1,000 Americans to emergency rooms and is behind the drug overdose deaths of nearly 44 people each day.
While 911 is a critical resource in a medical emergency, Darwin said with poisonings it’s best to call the poison center for help first.
“Never wait for symptoms,” she said. “A lot of things that could be toxic, it might take a day or so for those to start working, so you need to call the poison center first.”
While medicine caps help prevent medicine getting into the wrong hands, they’re no replacement for supervision or keeping the drugs in a secure place.
“One thing that people need to realize is that those are not child proof, they’re just child resistant,” she said. “Children can easily undo those caps if they really want to, and with social media it also shows people different ways to be poisoned, if they choose to do so.”
It is recommended to always keep medications of any sort in their original packaging, and the same goes for household cleaners, pesticides and other toxic chemicals.