Accidental Poisoning

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If you know or suspect that your child has come into contact with or ingested a poison (anything not meant for contact/ingestion), and s/he has mild or no symptoms, call the poison control center immediately.


Prevention is the key when it comes to discussing poisoning.

Each year more than 1 million children under the age of 6 ingest or come into contact with a poisonous substance.


  1. Keep all medications in childproof bottles and out of reach.
  2. Keep all cleaning supplies and detergents in their original containers, high up if possible, and in childproof cabinets- use child locks on the doors.
  3. Gardening supplies should be kept in a locked container.
  4. Paint, paint thinner, antifreeze and pesticides should all be kept out of reach in locked cabinets.
  5. Check all toys to make sure that they are safe and free of lead or other hazardous material.
  6. Be sure to put new batteries in your smoke detectors when you change the clocks for daylight savings and in your carbon monoxide detectors at least once a year.
  7. Read the instructions on any of your child’s medications carefully before giving each dose to be sure that you have picked up the right medication and are giving it in the proper way.
  8. Never call medicine a treat/candy or your child may feel comfortable taking it on his/her own.
  9. Make a chart of the routine medications your child takes – whether they are simply occasional ibuprofen and cough medicine, or prescription medications.  Put the name of the medication and the amount for each child on a piece of paper and tape it to the inside of the medicine cabinet.
  10. If your child is on a medication, especially if different people are in charge of giving doses, keep a chart so each dose, once given, is checked off to prevent over-dosing.
  11. Keep spare batteries in a child-proof/locked cabinet and be sure any flashlights, remote controls, and other battery-containing items are kept out of reach.  Any battery-run toys should have a lock/screw to keep the batteries safely out of your child’s hands.

If your child has come into contact or ingested something possibly poison and shows dangerous signs listed below you should:

  1. Call the Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222.
  2. If you find your child with something in his/her mouth have him/her spit it out.  Do not force your child to vomit.  Some poisons may cause more complications if they are vomited.
  3. If your child has spilled a possibly toxic substance onto his/her skin or in his/her eyes, wash with room temperature water for 15 minutes.  You can do this while calling the Poison Control Center.
  4. If you are not sure if your child ingested something smell his/her breath, look at the skin around the mouth for signs of redness or residue.  If in doubt treat as an ingestion and contact the Poison Control Center.
  5. If the Poison Control Center directs you to go to the Emergency Room, or if you are heading there on your own, take the container of what you think or know your child ingested with you.

Dangerous Signs

If your child has any of the following, call 911 immediately:

  1. Confusion
  2. Vomiting
  3. Extreme sleepiness
  4. Loss of consciousness
  5. Restlessness or agitation
  6. Difficulty breathing

If you feel that something is just not right call your physician or head into an urgent care/emergency room.  Remember, no one knows your child like you do!

-Monique Araya, MD, FAAP

The medical information on this Web site is provided for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider.

If you believe you have a medical emergency you should call 911 or your physician immediately.  If you have any questions regarding your health or a medical condition, you should promptly consult your physician.