Tennessee Poison Center (TPC) is a comprehensive poison resource center located on the campus of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. We are the statewide poison emergency information and resource center for the public and health care professionals.

Tennessee Poison Center is certified as the statewide poison control center by the Tennessee Department of Health and is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.


Now that schools have closed and summer vacations have begun, there are some practical tips that everyone can follow to ensure a safe summer in the great outdoors:


  • Wear clothing that will cover as much exposed skin as possible to protect yourself from plant poisonings such as poison ivy and poison oak.
  • Parents should teach children never to put mushrooms, berries or any part of a plant in their mouths and never assume a plant is non-toxic because birds or wildlife eat it.
  • Stay away from plants that are unknown to you.
  • Call TPC for a list of poisonous plants.
  • If you suspect a plant poisoning, remove contaminated clothing, gently wash the affected skin with soap and cool water and call the poison center.

Food preparation, storage and cooking: Many people take advantage of warm weather to hold barbeques, have a picnic or camp. Here are some tips on how to prepare and store foods in these warm months.

  • Pack hot foods in insulated containers so they stay hot
  • Pack refrigerated foods before leaving home. Use well-insulated coolers that allow space for ice packs.
  • Never leave a cooler in the trunk or car; place it in a shaded area and cover it with a blanket.
  • Cook foods as close to serving time as possible.
  • Refrigerate food within 2 hours after cooking.

Bites and stings: Most people who are stung by an insect will experience redness, itching, swelling and some pain around the sting site.

  • Wear clothing that will cover as much exposed skin as possible to protect yourself from insect bites and stings when outdoors.
  • If you are stung and a stinger is present, you should remove it by scraping a credit card across the wound. Do not squeeze or touch the stinger because this will force the venom into the skin.
  • While insect repellents can protect you from pests, these products can be a source of poisoning if used improperly.
  • Follow the label carefully and wash your hands after using insect repellents and pesticides to avoid getting them into the eyes or mouth.
  • If you are exposed to a large amount of insect repellent or pesticide, wash the skin or flush the eyes with water and contact TPC.

Remember, if you suspect a poisoning or have a question about poisoning, call Tennessee Poison Center FIRST! 1-800-222-1222. All calls are confidential and free of charge.

How You Can Help

Tennessee Poison Center helps more than 127,000 callers a year. We depend on community support in order to provide our vital programs.


This page was last updated June 6, 2016 and is maintained by