Poison Center Warns Parents and Children As Calls Rise

POSTED: Saturday, March 21, 2009 - 6:19pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:23pm

EL PASO---- A local poison control center reached out to both children and parents Saturday in an attempt to save lives.

At the El Paso Zoo, many would expect to see wild and dangerous animals, but poisonous animals like tarantulas and scorpions were only part of Saturday's lesson at the Annual Poison Jungle Safari.

"This is the function of the poison jungle safari. To educate people in a very positive way so everyone has a good time and leaves not only satisfied that they had a good time on this day, but learn something that may help them, may actually save their life," said West Texas Regional Poison Center Medical Director Dr. John Haynes.

Parents and children went from station to station, where staff from the center taught them about all types of possible poisonings and the dangers of everyday household items, like Clorox and medications.

"Most parents don't know everything that's poisonous, they don't know everything that's dangerous. The biggest thing that I hear from parents is, wow, I have that at home. I didn't know it was dangerous," said Emilio Saenz, the center's community relations director.

Perhaps more alarming for parents though, is how often poisonings happen in El Paso.

In 2008, 36,000 calls were made to the poison center.
That's more than a 7 percent jump from the year before.
Of all those calls, 60 percent reported a poisoned child.
These numbers do not include calls made directly to 9-1-1.

It's a number that certainly surprised Lupe Maldonado, a mother of two.

"It is scary, but most important of all I think it's important that I think the kids get exposed to it, and that they start learning at a young age because they also need to be aware that they need to stay away," she said.

That's why Maldonado, along with the dozens of other parents, brought their children to the event.
To make sure tragedy, doesn't come too close.

"I believe the more aware the people are out there, the safer the community overall and the safer our children will be," she said.

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