Poison Prevention Tips

Every year, more than 72,600 children ages 5 and under visit the emergency room for unintentional poisoning.  About 40 percent will be poisoned by prescription drugs and other medicines.  Ninety percent of child poisonings happen in a home.  They even happen in homes without children (when kids visit), and they happen when people bring medicine into homes where children live.  Young children are very curious and cannot yet read.  They often cannot tell the difference between things such as juice or candy, and a potential poison.  Their curious nature may lead them to ingest a substance that can be very harmful to them.  So take the following steps to keep children safe in your home:

  • Keep medication and harmful products locked up and out of a child’s sight and reach.
  • NEVER call medicine “candy.”
  • Buy medicine and household products in childproof containers.
  • NEVER leave alcohol within a child’s reach.
  • Seek help if a child swallows a substance that is not food.  Call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) or your doctor if a child swallows a poisonous substance.
  • Keep the following numbers near your phone:


Poison Control Center:





  • Syrup of Ipecac is no longer recommended for poisoning ingestion. Activated Charcoal is the agent of choice, and can be obtained over-the– counter.  However, activated charcoal is difficult to get children to swallow so we recommend not wasting time but rather just going to the emergency room.
  • Keep all products in their original containers. NEVER put inedible products in food or beverage containers.
  • Teach children not to drink or eat anything unless it came from an adult.
  • If your home was built before 1978, test for lead-based paint and get your child tested for lead exposure.  Children inhale the dust of lead-based paint and can build up enough lead in their blood to affect intelligence, growth and development.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.  Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that builds up around fuel-burning appliances and cars in garages.  It can make a child seriously ill in concentrations that would barely affect an adult.
  • Be alert for repeated poisonings. Children who swallow a poison are likely to do so again within a year.

 Discuss these precautions with grandparents and caregivers.  They may have medications that can be very dangerous to children and their homes might not be as well childproofed as yours.  For more information on poisoning or other childhood safety topics, log on to www.safekidsgf.com or e-mail us at safekids@altru.org.

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About safekids

Safe Kids Grand Forks is an injury prevention coalition who has as their mission to prevent unintentional injuries to children under the age of 10. Safe Kids Grand Forks is one of over 600 state and local coalitions affilicated with Safe Kids Worldwide in Washington, D.C. Altru Health System is the lead agency for SKGF and our goal is to collaborate and coordinate activivies of all entities in the community who have childhood injury prevention on their agenda. Together, we are keeping the children of our community and region safe!!