Illinois Poison Control

Q: What is a poison? 1-800-222-1222

A: A poison is any substance that can give you an unwanted and/or unexpected reaction. That means, that anything can be potentially toxic or poisonous ...the dosage makes it so! If in doubt, always call the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) right away before going to the hospital emergency department.

Q. When should I call 911 and when should I call the Illinois Poison Center?

A: If the person is not conscious or not breathing, call 911 immediately. These are life threatening issues. 911 will dispatch an ambulance, police and/or fire if necessary. 

If the person is conscious and breathing call the Illinois Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) right away even if you're not sure and only suspect that someone's been exposed to a potentially harmful substance. Do not wait for the person to feel, look or get sick.

Q: What is the toll-free helpline number to the Illinois Poison Center?

A: 1-800-222-1222 this number is a national number, please save it in your phone. You can call from anywhere in the U.S. and you'll be connected to the nearest U.S. Poison Center. The call is free and confidential, no judgment.

Q: Who should call the IPC?

A: Anyone and everyone who needs help regarding a potentially harmful substance! You can call if you have a question or need treatment advice for you or someone else who might have been exposed to a potentially harmful substance. The IPC serves all 102 counties of Illinois and takes calls from the public as well as healthcare professionals. On average, 45% of calls to the IPC involve a child and 55% of calls involve an adolescent or adult. 

Calls involving an adult usually have more complicated and serious outcomes.

On average, 33% of calls to the IPC are from healthcare professionals (physicians, nurses, EMS professionals, etc.), so there's a good chance the medical staff will call the IPC to consult on your treatment if you were to go to the hospital or other healthcare facility. Don't hesitate to call!

Q: How much does it cost to call the poison center?

A: There is no direct cost, the call is FREE to anyone in Illinois!

Q: What are the Illinois Poison Center hours?

A: The IPC helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.

Q: When should I call the poison center?

A. Call if you have a question, if you think, or even suspect that you or someone else has come in contact with something that can give/or has given you an unexpected or unwanted reaction. Do not wait! The IPC can help the public and healthcare professionals with questions regarding:

  • Household and personal care products
  • Chemicals at home, work or play environments
  • Drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, illegal/recreational or veterinary medicines)
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Plants (mushrooms, indoor and outdoor plants)
  • Bites/stings (bug, snake, animal)
  • Environmentals (bioterrorism, pollution, gases)
  • Food poisonings
  • And much more!

Q: Who will answer my call?

A: Calls are answered by specially trained pharmacists, nurses, physicians and other poison information specialists.

Click here for a list of current helpline staff. A medical toxicologist is on call at all times to consult on serious and/or complex cases.

Q: What information will I need to provide?

A: If your call is regarding you or someone else who's been exposed (or might have been exposed) to a potentially harmful substance, the poison center will ask you for the following information (you provide as much information as possible):

  • Age of the person involved
  • Weight of the person involved
  • Information about the product or potentially harmful substance
  • Current health status of person involved
  • Health history of the person
  • Time of exposure
  • Your zip code (needed for grant reporting purposes)
  • Person's/patients first name (exposed to a potentially harmful substance) (optional)
  • Phone number (optional)