The Poison Prevention Program is administered by the Injury Prevention and Control Program in partnership with the Regional Center for Poison Prevention and Control. The mission of the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention is to provide assistance and expertise in the medical diagnosis, management and prevention of poisonings in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In 2011, the Center managed over 50,000 poison exposure and information calls. The Center is located at Children's Hospital, Boston, and operates a toll-free, 24-hour phone line for poisoning emergencies and information. In a poison emergency, call the Regional Center at 1-800-222-1222 (TTY: 1-888-244-5313).

If you Think Someone has Been Poisoned

Call the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention serving Massachusetts and Rhode Island at 1-800-222-1222 (TTY: 1-888-244-5313) right away. Do not wait for the victim to look or feel sick. Do not try to treat the person yourself. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911 for an ambulance.

When you call the Poison Control Center, take the poison with you to the phone. You may be asked to read information from the bottle's label. You also will be asked to give:

  • Victim's age and weight
  • Any symptoms the victim has related to the poisoning
  • Time that the poisoning took place
  • Name of the substance or poison
  • Amount of the substance or poison
  • Any current health problems of the victim
  • Any medicines the victim is taking

Massachusetts Statistics

  • Poisoning, which includes drug overdoses, is the leading cause of injury death in Massachusetts. In 2010, opioids, which include heroin, oxycodone, morphine, and other opium-like agents, were associated with 66% of these deaths; cocaine was associated with 20% of these deaths. (Poisoning deaths can be associated with one or more agents.)
  • From 2000 to 2006, the age-adjusted poisoning death rate in Massachusetts increased 80%; from 2006 to 2010, annual rates have been stable or have declined.
  • Poisoning is the second leading cause of injury-related inpatient hospitalizations in Massachusetts; in FY2010 49% percent of these were self-inflicted.

Prevention Tips

(From Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention and American Association of Poison Control Centers)

  • Keep all hazardous materials in locked cabinets and out of reach of children.
  • Put safety latches on drawers and cabinets containing harmful household products.
  • Store all household products and medications in the original containers with the original labels on them.
  • Do not leave children alone with household products or medications. When using a product, take children with you if you leave the room.
  • Return household products to safe storage right after use.
  • Buy products in child-resistant packaging, when available.
  • Read all medication labels carefully
  • Never refer to medication as candy.
  • Store food and cleaners separately.
  • Place carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
  • Keep children away from any poisonous plants that may be in or around your home.
  • Watch children carefully when playing indoors and outdoors.
  • Post the number for the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention (1-800-222-1222) near all telephones in your home.

Related Links

For More Information

Visit the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention at or call 800-222-1222. TTY: 1-888-244-5313 or contact the Department of Public Health Poison Prevention Program:

Rahila Saeed

This information is provided by the Injury Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.