Poisoning Prevention and Treatment

How to protect your child from household chemicals.

Preventing Poisoning

Each year, unintentional poisonings from medicines and household chemicals kill about 30 children and prompt more than one million calls to the nation's Poison Control Centers (1-800-222-1222), according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The good news is that, with a few steps of prevention, poisoning can be prevented. Learn how you can protect your child with these safety tips.

  • Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container securely after use.
  • Keep all chemicals and medicines locked up and out of sight.
  • Keep the number of your local Poison Control Center near every phone, and call immediately in case of poisoning.
  • Keep on hand a bottle of syrup of ipecac, but use it only if the Poison Control Center instructs you to induce vomiting.
  • When products are in use, never let young children out of your sight, even if you must take them along when answering the phone or doorbell.
  • Keep medicinal and chemical items in their original containers.
  • Leave the original labels on all products, and read the labels before using the products.
  • Don't put decorative lamps or candles that contain lamp oil where children can reach them.
  • Always leave the light on when giving or taking medicine. Check the dosage every time.
  • Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Refer to medicine as "medicine," not "candy."
  • Clean out the medicine cabinet periodically and safely dispose of unneeded and outdated medicines.

When Poisoning Occurs

If your child does ingest or come into skin contact with poison, call your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, toll-free. You'll be connected to nurses, pharmacists, and doctors at the closest poison center. Only call 911 if your child is unconscious.

If poison is swallowed: Never try to make the child vomit unless you're told to do so by a doctor or the Poison Control Center. Give the child nothing by mouth (such as syrup of ipecac) unless you are instructed to do so.

If poison is inhaled: Move the child into fresh air. Avoid breathing fumes. Open doors and windows wide. If needed, start rescue breathing techniques.

For poison on the skin: Remove any clothing that has poison on it. Flood the skin with water for 15 minutes. Wash the skin gently with soap and water, then rinse.

For poison in the eye: Fill a large glass with lukewarm water. Flood the eye with water from the glass held two or three inches above the eye. Do this for 15 minutes.

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Reviewed 2/02 by Jane Forester,

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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