As the warmer weather of spring arrives, there’s often an increase in accidental poisoning cases in Iowa. Registered nurse Joan McVoy says while Iowans are starting to plant their gardens and tending the landscapes, they should make an effort to know the names of every plant and tree in their yard.

“This time of year, we’ll start to lay down fertilizer and herbicides and we need to be careful with those,” McVoy says. “Make sure your kids aren’t around when you’re using them. Don’t spray your trees on windy days.” Experts at the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center, based in Sioux City, can answer most questions people have about poisonous substances, plants, and procedures for preparing and storing chemicals. McVoy says people are often confused about where to turn in accidental poisoning cases.

She says 911 is for emergency, life-threatening situations but if the person who was poisoned is doing okay, the 911 dispatcher would likely just transfer you to the poison control center. The number to the poison center should be handy: 800-222-1222. McVoy says if it’s determined the person isn’t in immediate danger, bring the chemical container or plant along when you call the poison hotline.

“It’s always helpful if you bring the product to the phone with you so we can have it there and we’ll take it from there as far as exactly what to do,” McVoy says. “If you get something in your eye or on your skin, the nurse can help you with that information, call right away.”

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