Call 9-1-1 if a poisoning does occur
We recommend parents and caregivers eliminate hidden household poisons.
Storing household cleaners, medicines and vitamins locked away and out of
reach is a smart and simple safety intervention that could save a child's life.
Keep poisonous products out of reach. Storing potentially
harmful products out of sight and reach - in cabinets with safety
locks - is one of the best ways to prevent poisonings. Know which
household products are poisonous. Something as common as mouthwash can
be poisonous due to its alcohol content if a child swallows a large
Stay alert while using poisonous household products. Many
poisonings occur while adults are using a household product like a
bathroom cleaner or bleach. Adults should know where children are when
these products are in use. Never leave a child alone in a room with a
poisonous product. It takes only seconds for a poisoning to occur.
Never refer to medicine or vitamins as candy. Referring to
medicine as candy could cause a child to think that it is harmless or
pleasant to eat. Since children tend to mimic adults, avoid taking
medications in front of them. Vitamins, particularly those containing
iron, can also be poisonous to children. Keep them out of your child's
reach at all times and carefully monitor their use.
Throw away old medicines and other potential poisons. Discard
old medicines on a regular basis by flushing them down the toilet.
Check your garage, basement and other common storage areas for
cleaning and work supplies that you do not use or no longer need and
dispose of these items.
Beware that certain cosmetics and personal products are
poisonous. In addition to medicines, children may be tempted to
taste cosmetics and personal care products. Store items such as
after-shave, cologne, perfume, hair spray, shampoo, artificial
fingernail remover and fingernail polish remover out of reach.
Keep products in original containers. Never put potentially
poisonous products in something other than their original container
where they could be mistaken for something harmless.
Buy child-resistant packaging. Child-resistant caps do not
guarantee that children cannot open a container, but they do deter
children and increase the time that you have to stop them before they
swallow a poison.
Keep poisonous plants out of reach. Learn which plants in and
around your house are poisonous, and either remove them or make them
inaccessible to children. Teach children never to put leaves, stems,
bark, seeds, nuts or berries from any plant into their mouths.
Household plants that are often involved with poisonings are dumbcane
or dieffenbachia, philodendron and pothos or devil's ivy. Read more
about poisonous plants.
Install carbon monoxide detectors in the home. Install CO
detectors in your home in every sleeping area, and on the ceiling at
least 15 feet from fuel-burning appliances. Ensure that space heaters,
furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are vented properly and
inspected annually. If your family experiences symptoms of carbon
monoxide poisoning (often similar to flu symptoms) get into fresh air
and call for medical help immediately.
If your home was built before 1978, have it tested for lead-based
paint. It is estimated that 890,000 children between the ages of 1
and 5 have elevated blood lead levels from ingesting dust from
deteriorating lead-based paint and other sources of lead. Cover lead
paint with a sealant or hire a professional abatement company to
remove the paint. Wash children’s hands and faces, as wells as toys
and pacifiers, frequently to reduce the risk of ingesting
Teach grandparents and relatives to take precautions.
Grandparents' medicines can be very dangerous for children.
Grandparents should take appropriate precautions while grandchildren
are visiting. Before the visit, ask them to purchase a bottle of
ipecac syrup to keep on hand, and to post phone numbers to the local
poison control center and their local physician near all of their
Learn more safety tips about poison prevention or get the
facts about unintentional childhood poison injury.
If a poisoning does occur, follow these guidelines:
Be prepared. Keep the phone numbers of the local poison control
center, physician and emergency medical service next to each
telephone. Always keep a bottle of ipecac syrup on hand (one per
child), but use it only on the advice of a poison control center,
emergency medical service personnel or physician.
Call for help. If you suspect a child has swallowed something, check
his or her mouth. Remove any remaining poison from the child’s
mouth, then call your local poison control center, physician or other
emergency medical services. When calling, bring the container of the
ingested substance to the phone with you. Call even if you are not
sure that the child was poisoned. The poison center staff or emergency
personnel will determine if you need to do anything for the child. Do
not give the child anything to treat the poison until you have
consulted a poison control center or a health care professional.
Vomiting can often aggravate the poisoning and cause even greater
Rinse skin with water. If a poison has come in contact with your
child's skin, rinse the skin with running water for 15 minutes. Don't
touch the poison. Take off any contaminated clothing. Call the poison
control center or emergency medical service immediately.
Flush eyes with water. If a poison has gotten into your child's
eyes, gently hold his or her eyelids open and pour cool water into
them for 15 minutes. Do not let the child rub his or her eyes, and do
not put the child's head directly under a faucet to irrigate the eyes.
Once again, call the poison control center or emergency medical