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Summer brings the highest number of calls to the Upstate New York Poison Center

Image of kids outside in summer

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (June 9, 2023) – The Upstate New York Poison Center sees the most calls in July and August each year. Many factors are at play, including children being out of school, routines are off, and exposure to new potential poisons. Our poison center last July and August received nearly 9,500 calls. More than one-third of those calls were for children 12 and under.

“Summer brings with it new challenges for families and is a great time to remind everyone that a poisoning can happen at any time so save our number just in case,” says Dr. Christine Stork, clinical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center. “We also encourage everyone to be mindful of safe storage of all chemicals you use in the outdoors and call us with any questions or concerns.”

This summer, remember these helpful tips to keep you, your family, and friends poison-free:

  1. Keep hot food hot, cold food cold
  2. Never eat mushroom, plants, or berries you find growing in the wild without talk to an expert
  3. Store insecticides up high and out of sight of kids
  4. Wash your hands after using pool chemicals, and store up high
  5. Tiki torch fluid can look like apple juice to a child, store in original container
  6. Put bug spray out of reach of kids and don’t spray it or sunscreen in eyes or mouth
  7. Keep all alcohol and cannabis-related products up high and out of reach of children
  8. Save our number in your phone now: 1-800-222-1222

Already a concern for our poison center this summer is the alarming number of calls for children swallowing cannabis containing products. Unlicensed and non-New York State approved cannabis products are still being sold and they can look appealing to young children. It is important to remember that unlike smoked marijuana, the effects of edibles may not kick in for almost 90 minutes. Pediatric exposures to edible cannabis products frequently require a trip to a healthcare facility. In young children, cannabis can cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, severe tiredness, trouble breathing and even coma.

Dr. Stork says, “Most kids can’t tell the difference between products with and without cannabis. Put these products, as well as alcohol, up high, out of sight of children and do not store them near other products that look similar.”

Our poison center is staffed by trained Registered Nurses, Pharmacists and Physicians who have completed training on how to handle a poisoning call and they know when to send someone to a healthcare facility. We can help you avoid an unnecessary trip to an emergency room by just calling us first.

Hear directly from our staff in our latest “Summer Safety” video: https://bit.ly/safesummer2023

Please reach out to Allison Mirabito if you would like an interview and please use/share our video on-air or online.


In the case of a poisoning or for information purposes, call the Upstate New York Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. We are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Each year our center manages more than 50,000 calls from health care providers, 911 operators, hospitals, industry, schools, and the general public in our 54-county service area.

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About Upstate New York Poison Center

Housed inside Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, the Upstate New York Poison Center is dedicated to reducing the number, cost and severity of poisonings within its designated 54-county service area as mandated by New York State Law. The Center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to both health professionals and the general public at 1-800-222-1222.

About Upstate Medical University

SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, is the only academic medical center in Central New York. It is also the region's largest employer with 9,460 employees. Affiliated with the State University of New York, Upstate's mission is to improve the health of the community through education, biomedical research and health care.