Q: What is a poison?
A: A poison is any substance that can give you an unwanted and/or unexpected reaction. That means, that anything can be potentially toxic or poisonous ...the dosage makes it so! If in doubt, always call the Illinois Poison Center's (IPC) free, confidential 1-800-222-1222 expert Helpline right away before going to the hospital emergency department.
Q. When should I call 911 and when should I call the Illinois Poison Center?
A: If the person is not conscious or not breathing, call 911 immediately. These are life threatening issues. 911 will dispatch an ambulance, police and/or fire if necessary.
If the person is conscious and breathing, call the Illinois Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) right away even if you're not sure and only suspect that someone's been exposed to a potentially harmful substance. Do not wait for the person to feel, look or get sick. Click here for more first aid information.
Q: What is the toll-free helpline number to the Illinois Poison Center?
A: 1-800-222-1222 This number is a national number, please save it in your phone. You can call from anywhere in the U.S. and you'll be connected to the nearest U.S. Poison Center. The call is free and confidential, no judgement.
Q: Who should call the IPC?
A: Anyone and everyone who needs help regarding a potentially harmful substance! You can call if you have a question or need treatment advice for you or someone else who might have been exposed to a potentially harmful substance. The IPC serves all 102 counties of Illinois and takes calls from the public as well as healthcare professionals. In 2018, the IPC managed 77,768 individual cases from across Illinois. Of those calls, a majority (72,380) were for advice on treating someone exposed to a potentially harmful substance. The additional 5,388 calls were for poison information. Approximately 42 percent of the poison exposure calls handled by the IPC last year involved children ages 5 and younger (30,261 pediatric exposures). There were 88,510 total follow-up calls made to the public and health care facilities.
Click here for testimonials from individuals and healthcare professionals who've used the helpline service.
On average, 34% of calls to the IPC are from healthcare professionals (physicians, nurses, EMS professionals, etc.), so there's a good chance the medical staff will call the IPC to consult on your treatment if you were to go to the hospital or other healthcare facility. Don't hesitate to call!
Q: How much does it cost to call the poison center?
A: There is no direct cost, the call is FREE to anyone in Illinois!
Q: What are the Illinois Poison Center hours?
A: The IPC helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Q: When should I call the poison center?
A: Call if you have a question, if you think, or even suspect that you or someone else has come in contact with something that can give/or has given you an unexpected or unwanted reaction. Do not wait! The IPC can help the public and healthcare professionals with questions regarding:
- Household and personal care products
- Chemicals at home, work or play environments
- Drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, illegal/recreational or veterinary medicines)
- Vitamins and supplements
- Plants (mushrooms, indoor and outdoor plants)
- Bites/stings (bug, snake, animal)
- Environmentals (bioterrorism, pollution, gases)
- Food poisonings
- And much more!
Q: Who will answer my call?
A: Calls are answered by specially trained pharmacists, nurses, physicians and other poison information specialists. Click here for a list of current helpline staff. A medical toxicologist is on call at all times to consult on serious and/or complex cases.
Q: What information will I need to provide?
A: If your call is regarding you or someone else who's been exposed (or might have been exposed) to a potentially harmful substance, the poison center will ask you for the following information (you provide as much information as possible):
- Age of the person involved
- Weight of the person involved
- Information about the product or potentially harmful substance
- Current health status of person involved
- Health history of the person
- Time of exposure
- Your zip code (needed for grant reporting purposes)
- Person's/patient's first name (exposed to a potentially harmful substance) (optional)
- Phone number (optional)
Q: Does the Illinois Poison Center take calls about pets?
A: The IPC is a human poison control center. For pet poisonings, please call the ASPCA animal poison center at 1-888-426-4435. There is a fee for the call.
Q: How can I get free stickers, magnets, posters, and other education, presentation and promotion materials?
A: The IPC has an online Poison Prevention Education Resource Center where you can download and/or order a variety of materials (most are free!). If you haven't already done so, we first ask that you complete the free, quick and easy online Poison Prevention Education Course. After doing so, you'll have unlimited access to the materials AND you'll earn free continuing eduction credit (CEC)!
Q: How is the Illinois Poison Center funded?
A: The Illinois Poison Center is a non-profit organization supported by public and private grants and gifts as well as individual contributions. For more information about the Illinois Poison Center, click here.
- For more information about the types of calls/cases handled by the IPC, click here
- Save the IPC helpline 1-800-222-1222 to your phone(s) and share with others: Text to Save
- To take advantage of the IPC's FREE poison prevention education and presentation materials and education course, click here
- To request a Complimentary Safety Packet (sticker, magnet, first aid for poisonings brochure), click here
- To subscribe to IPC news (monthly, seasonally, breaking news), click here
- To make a donation, click here
- To contact with questions (non-emergency) or comments: IPCadmin@team-iha.org or 312.906.6136
- Don't forget to visit us on: Facebook, Blog, You Tube and/or Twitter