Poison Perils with Frank & Louise: Frank’s Snacking Snafu

Meet Frank and Louise Wilmot

Frank, 75, is a retired engineer who enjoys gardening, fishing, and shouting at the television. Louise, 68, is a retired middle school teacher who likes to travel, read, and ignore Frank’s shouting at the television. They share their New England home with a happy little wheaten terrier named Bailey.

It had been a long day in the Wilmot household. Tomorrow was their grandson Pete’s 13th birthday, and they were hosting a surprise party, so today had been full of cleaning, cooking and yard work. The afternoon had included conversations like:

“Frank, can you get the stepladder from the garage? I want those windows washed.”

“What 13-year-old boy cares if the windows are clean, unless there’s a 13-year-old girl on the other side?”

“Just get the ladder please.”


“Leave those cookies alone, Frank. They’re for the party!”

Their chores done, Frank and Louise snacked on some leftovers, too tired to cook. A half hour into the evening news, Louise rose from her chair, saying, “That’s it, I can’t keep my eyes open! I’m off to bed. Don’t you stay up too late.”

“I just want to catch the baseball scores. I’ll be right in,” Frank said.

“Right after I sneak a cookie or two,” he thought to himself. He waited, listening to her complete her bedtime routine. Finally hearing the soft hum of her CPAP machine, he snuck into the kitchen and found the tin of fresh chocolate chip cookies.

He had just popped a cookie into his mouth when their dog, Bailey, startled him, whining for a piece of contraband. The cookie in Frank’s mouth went down wrong and he began to cough. Not wanting to wake Louise and face her wrath, he grabbed some orange drink from among the bottles of soda on the counter and took a big swig.

The first gulp washed down the cookie, but the second told him it was not orange drink. Peering at the label he realized he had just swallowed several ounces of an orange-colored cleaning product. He turned to the sink and quickly rinsed the soapy taste out of his mouth with water.

“Now what?” he wondered.

He took a look at the caution label on the bottle, which recommended a call to poison control. The national number on the label put him right through to the Northern New England Poison Center, and he whispered his situation to the poison specialist.

After identifying the product, the specialist advised Frank not induce vomiting, and explained that he might feel sick to his stomach and could vomit. He recommended that Frank not head right to bed but sit up for a little bit and sip some water until any nausea passed. He also recommended storing cleaning products away from food items in the future, as this kind of poisoning is fairly common.

“Well, you pay for your pleasures,” thought Frank as he settled into his chair and reached for the remote, emitting a bubbly burp.

The Northern New England Poison Center is available 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222 to provide free, confidential expertise in cases of cleaning product mishaps, medication errors and other types of potential poisoning.

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