Frequently Asked Questions

Medication Safety / Poison - Children

Poison Safety for Children

Child Poison Safety

  • Child poison safety is relatively easy to teach, even very young children can learn basic rules of refraining from harmful substances.
  • Poisoning is the most easily prevented of all unintentional injuries and deaths.
  • It is estimated that 130 children age 14 and under are unintentionally poisoned in the United States each year.
  • Children age 5 and under are constantly exploring their environment, therefore child poison safety preventive measures need to be taken to reduce the risk of your child being poisoned in your home. 

    Who to call in case of emergency?

    The ingestion of toxic substances by young children is considered an "EMERGENCY". If you suspect poisoning, call your poison control center immediately.

    Call 1-800-222-1222, which routes your call to the nearest poison control center available. Try to have this information ready:

    • The victim's age and weight
    • The container or bottle of the poison if available
    • The time of the poison exposure
    • The address where the poisoning occurred

    Different types and methods of poisoning require different, immediate treatments.

    Swallowed poison

    • Remove the item from the child, and have the child spit out any remaining substance. Do not make your child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.
    • Syrup of ipecac is a drug that was used in the past to make children vomit after they had swallowed a poison. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends that syrup of ipecac no longer be used as a home treatment strategy.
    • Follow the instructions given by the poison control center on the line. Try to remain calm if at all possible.
    • If instructed to go to the hospital, take along the container the poison was in.  

    Inhaled Poison

    • Get the child to fresh air immediately
    • Avoid breathing fumes
    • Open all windows and doors fully.
    • Again, follow the instructions given by the poison control center on the line.  

    Storing dangerous items properly

    The average home is full of items that can poison a child. Some of them are self-evident - roach spray and rat poison. Help keep your children safe by storing dangerous substances properly and teach your child poison safety measures.

    • Adult medications should always be stored properly and safely out of reach from children. Adult medications that are especially dangerous for children include:
    • Diet pills and other stimulants
    • Decongestants
    • Antidepressants
    • Blood pressure pills
    • Iron supplements  

    Child Poison Safety Tips:

    • Use child-resistant packaging
    • Keep medicines and household chemicals locked up out of reach and out of sight from young children.
    • Keep the poison control center number next to your telephone and call immediately if a poisoning occurs.
    • Throw away old medications.
    • Use drawer and door guards where household chemicals are stored.
    • Never refer to medicine as "candy" or another appealing name.
    • Turn on a light when you prepare medicines for children so that you know you have the correct amount of the right medicine.
    • Never leave children alone with household products or drugs. If you are using chemical products or taking medicine and you have to do something else, such as answer the phone, take any young children with you.  

    Child Poison Safety Resources:

    American Association of Poison Control Centers

    Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration