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As an integral part of its mobile health (mHealth) initiative, California Poison Control System (CPCS) has upgraded its SMS education program which sends weekly poison tips to cell phones.

Messages are available by texting TIPS to 20121. Messages are also available in Spanish by texting PUNTOS to 20121.

“About 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and for some, it is their primary connection to health information according to the Pew Research Center,” said Stuart E. Heard, PharmD, Executive Director, CPCS. “We are on the forefront of mHealth in the area of poison control. Since many people tend to search for health information on their phones, we believe it is important to make poison prevention information available this way.”

Other key CPCS mHealth programs include active Facebook and Twitter accounts which provide poison prevention tips, as well as Facebook Live opportunities to meet the CPCS physicians, learn more about poison facts and attend poison media events remotely. A free app, Choose Your Poison, is available at the Apple App store and the android Play Store, as well as online at The game is fun, interactive and underscores an important poisoning prevention message – that medications can easily be mistaken for candy.

Out of more than four million poisonings that are reported each year to poison control centers across the country, it is estimated that more than 90 percent of them occur in the home. The majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children under the age of six. “Choose Your Poison is for everyone — health care workers, parents, teens, doctors, pharmacists,” says Dr. Heard, pointing out that children’s vitamins can look so much like candy that even pros sometimes can’t tell the difference.