The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) is a non-profit health service providing expert poisoning treatment advice and information. Our highly trained clinical staff are available around the clock by calling the IPC helpline, 1-800-222-1222.
Learn more about IPC and poison prevention through these frequently asked questions:
Q: What is a poison?
A: A poison is any substance that can give you an unwanted or unexpected reaction. That means that anything can be potentially toxic or poisonous. For example, a medication could be considered poisonous if it is taken in the wrong amount or by the wrong person.
Q: How do I get help from the Illinois Poison Center?
A: Call our helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Specially trained IPC staff are available to answer your questions and provide treatment advice on a potential poison exposure or overdose. Please save the toll-free IPC number to your cell phone. Calls are free and confidential.
Q: When should I call 911 and when should I call the Illinois Poison Center?
A: If someone is not conscious or not breathing, call 911 immediately. This is a life-threatening situation. 911 will dispatch an ambulance if necessary. If the individual is conscious and breathing, call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away. Do not wait for the person to feel, look or get sick. Our team of experts can help you with questions about:
- Household and personal care products
- Cleaning products
- Any type of medicine drug: prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, illegal, or recreational
- Vitamins and supplements
- Plants (mushrooms, indoor and outdoor plants)
- Bites/stings (bug, snake, animal)
- Environmental exposures (such as pesticides or gases)
- Food poisonings
Q: Who will answer my call?
A: Calls are answered by specially trained pharmacists, nurses, and other poison information specialists. A physician 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: IPC’s poison information specialists will ask for the following information for calls about a potential poison exposure:
- Age of the person involved
- Weight of the person involved
- Information about the substance
- Current health status of person involved
- Health history of the person
- Time of exposure
- Your zip code (needed for grant reporting purposes)
- The first name of the person involved (optional)
- Your phone number (optional)
Q: Does the Illinois Poison Center take calls about pets?
A: Our team of poison information specialists is trained to respond to human poison exposure. For pet poisonings, please call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.
Q: How can I get free stickers, magnets, posters and other promotional materials?
A: IPC has an online Poison Prevention Education Resource Center where you can download and/or order a variety of materials. For unlimited access to our promotional materials you must complete this free, quick and easy online Poison Prevention Education Course. You may earn free continuing education credit (CEC). To request a complimentary safety packet, please fill out this form.
Q: How is the Illinois Poison Center funded?
A: As a non-profit organization, the Illinois Poison Center is supported by public and private grants and gifts, as well as individual contributions. See our fact sheet to learn how IPC enhances public health and saves taxpayer money.