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Poison Control Center Makes Poison Prevention Child's Play

April 07, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Poison Control Center staff at The University of Kansas Health System receive calls daily about children tasting everything from bleach under the sink to those pretty yellow pills in Grandma's purse.

Now they have Hunter and Scout to help.

The two puppets – a careful dog and curious cat – were created by Mesner Puppet Theater, a local firm, working closely with the health system's Poison Control Center. In a playful 14-minute video, the furry duo warns children about staying away from poisons they might encounter at home.

Can Scout tell the difference between apple juice and floor cleaner? Nope, and that's the video's message to several audiences.

"It's very important for us to come up with a method to educate children, as well as parents, about dangers in the home," said Poison Control Educator Stefanie Baines, part of the health system's 13-person Poison Control Center.

The creative video is backed by education collateral, including a curriculum guide, poison help-line magnets and home safety checklist. The material, geared toward preschool and early elementary age children, is being distributed starting this month to child-care centers and schools throughout Kansas.

The grant-funded project is a team effort. In addition to staff from The University of Kansas Health System and Mesner Puppets, other groups involved are Child Care Aware of Kansas, Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities (KCCTO) and The Kansas School Nurse Organization's advisory committee.

Stephen Thornton, MD, medical director of the Poison Control Center, said the Hunter and Scout "Poison Patrol" campaign reflects an often overlooked role for the nation's 55 poison control centers: prevention.

"Our centers are an important bridge between public health and acute health," he said. "We're here to help hospitals and doctors take care of patients, but we also have a duty to help parents and children. Preventing poisoning is just as important as treating it."

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