What To Do In Case of Accidental Poisoning
Hundreds of thousands of children and adults are accidentally poisoned every year. It's important to know how to respond correctly when you think someone has been exposed to a chemical that could harm them. While eating or drinking toxic substances are the most common means of exposure, poisoning can also occur from skin exposure, splashing in the eyes and inhalation. Never assume that a chemical is harmless when someone has been exposed.

Be Prepared

Keep an unexpired bottle of Syrup of Ipecac and a bottle of activated charcoal suspension in the house. These are often used to treat accidental ingestions. NEVER GIVE EITHER OF THESE UNLESS SPECIFICALLY INSTRUCTED TO DO SO BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.

Post the number of the local Poison Control Center or your doctor by the phone.

Instruct babysitters or anyone caring for your child NOT to follow the instructions on a product container without calling a doctor or PCC first. Many products have outdated treatment instructions on them. 

What To Do

1) Stay Calm. The call will seem to take a long time and it may seem that you are being asked lots of questions. Remember that PCCs are staffed by trained personel who know what they are doing.

2) Have As Much Information Available As Possible.

The individual's age, weight, medical history (allergies, medications, illnesses,etc.) and current condition

The product container if available. You may be asked to read the contents, name of the manufacturer, etc. off the label.

How much the individual ingested or how much skin was exposed.

Any actions taken prior to calling; e.g., flushing the skin with water.

The individual's current condition.

Preventing Poisoning

The most common items involved in poisonings are (prescription and over-the- counter), household and chemical products, plants and cosmetics.

Children under the age of six are at the greatest risk for poisoning. Color, smell and colorful packaging attract them they will often eat or drink things that taste bad simply out of curiosity.



  • Use safety locks on all cabinets and store all poisonous household and chemical products out of sight of children. 
  • Use extra caution during mealtimes or when the household routine is disrupted (e.g., when a babysitter is present). Many poisonings take place at such times. 
  • Discard old or outdated medicines, cosmetics, household and chemical products.
Household Chemicals
  • Store all products in their original containers. DO NOT use food containers such as milk jugs or soda bottles to store household and chemical products.
  • Store food and household and chemical products in separate areas. Many poisonous products look-a-like and come in containers very similar to drinks or food, for example apple juice and pine cleaner.
  • Return household and chemical products to safe storage immediately after use.
  • Most poisonings occur when the product is in use.Never leave a child alone withan open container of a poisonous product. If need to answer the telephone or doorbell, take the child with you. 
Medicines and Cosmetics
  • Keep medicines and cosmetics out of sight, locked up and out of reach of children.
  • Make sure that all medicines are in child-resistant containers and labeled properly. Remember child resistant does not mean child proof.
  • Do not give old cosmetics to children to play with.
  • Never leave pills on the counter or in a plastic bags. Always store medicines in their original container with a child-resistant cap.
  • Keep purses and diaper bags out of reach of children.
  • Avoid taking medicines in front of children. Young children often imitate "grown-ups."
  • DON'T call medicine candy. Medicines and candy look-a-like and children cannot tell the difference.
  • Vitamins are medicine. Vitamins with iron can be especially poisonous. Keep them locked up and out of reach of children.
  • Be aware of medicines that visitors may bring into your home. Children are curious and may investigate visitor's purses and suitcases.
  • Read and follow the directions and warnings on the label before giving or taking any medicine.
  • If you have any questions about the intended use of a medicine, contact the doctor who prescribed it.
  • Some medicines are dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Consult your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Be aware of potential drug interactions. Some medicines interact dangerously with food or other medicines. Your doctor should be made aware of all medicines, prescription or over-the-counter, you are currently taking. Talk to your doctor before taking any natural herbal supplements.
  • Never give or take medicines in the dark.
  • Old and outdated medicines should be flushed down the toilet. Some medications can become dangerous or ineffective over time.
  • Never share prescription medicines. Medicines should be taken by the person prescribed and for the reason prescribed.
  • Take time to teach children about poisonous substances.
  • Pesticides can be absorbed through the skin and can be extremely toxic. Stay away from areas that have recently been sprayed. 
This information provided by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

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