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Celebrating Poison Prevention Week

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kids act fast, so do poisons!

Six years ago, when Michelle Brock was moving into her Webster home, her daughter Jenna gave her a scare she would never forget. 

Boxes and furniture strewn everywhere, the place was mayhem. Jenna, only 2-years-old at the time, slipped out of her mother’s sight. Although alone for only a moment, it was long enough for Jenna to find a bottle of carpet cleaner, twist off the child-resistant cap and help herself to a drink. 

The cleaner, after all, was clear and looked a lot like water.

When Brock and her husband, Randy, found Jenna, they immediately called the family pediatrician, who — just as quickly — referred the couple to the Poison and Drug Information Center.

A Poison Control Specialist told them everything would be okay. In the worst-case scenario, Jenna might suffer a case of diarrhea.

“That call was such a relief,” Brock said. 

With this week being National Poison Prevention Week, the Brock family and the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center would jointly like to encourage other families to poison-proof their homes and educate their children about the dangers of poison.

“Kids act fast, but so do poisons,” says the Center’s managing director, John Benitez, M.D., M.P.H. “That’s the national slogan, and we firmly believe it.” 

Brock, now a mother of four, has also taken the slogan to heart. She’s plastered her phone and refrigerator with stickers and magnets that bear the Center’s emergency number. 

Ultimately, it’s a parent’s responsibility to protect their kids, Brock said. Since Jenna’s scare, Brock has taken precautions such as locking up laundry detergent, storing vitamins and medicines out of sight and reach, and teaching her children to never eat or drink anything unless they’ve asked first.

Even Brock’s 2-year-old son, Nicholas, is making a good habit of “asking first.”

“When we’re outside playing, he’ll pick a pebble or rock and bring it to me — he wants my approval,” Brock said with a laugh.

Still, kids like Nicholas occasionally forget. A week ago, his older sister left her fluoride rinse uncapped in the bathroom, and Brock suspected that he — like Jenna — had helped himself.

Immediately, Brock called the Center and learned that Nicholas would be okay; drinking a half cup of milk would do the trick.

“A parent cannot be too careful,” Brock said. “The specialists at the Center have been more than helpful. I really can’t thank them enough.”

If you have a question regarding suspected poisoning, call the Poison and Drug Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. For tips for poison-proofing your home and educational resources to share with young children, visit the Center’s website at

Established in 1954, the Ruth A. Lawrence Regional Poison and Drug Information Center is the second oldest poison center in the United States. Certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year to serve the 12 county Finger Lakes Region.

Located in the University of Rochester Medical Center/Strong Memorial Hospital, the Center is staffed by physicians, medical toxicologists and Specialists in Poison Information, all of which have advanced clinical experience and extensive poison-management training.

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