Each year household products, plants, and drugs poison over 1 million children. Most of them are preschoolers and occur before lunch and supper when children are hungry or thirsty.
Most poisonings occur when products are being used, not while they are stored.
Tips for Parents
Keep Your Household Safe
- Teach children to ask for permission before eating anything like berries or mushrooms found outside.
- Never refer to medicine as candy.
- Never take medicine in front of children and never drink medicine from the bottle. Children tend to imitate adults.
- Let children watch you read the instructions and measure the proper dosage.
- Never give medicine in the dark.
- Post the Poison Control Center number by every telephone.
- Keep a bottle of Ipecac in the medicine cabinet and in the glove compartment of your vehicle.
- Share this information with older siblings, relatives, and babysitters.
- Use water-based latex paint instead of hazardous oil-based paint.
- Keep rodent or insect traps out of reach.
- Never mix household products; it could cause a chemical reaction.
- Be familiar with plants, trees, and shrubs around your house.
- Wipe up all spills and puddles in the garage, carport, basement, or utility area.
- Use powders or pellet pesticides and herbicides instead of sprays and only use them when children and pets are not nearby.
- Avoid having unnecessary toxic substances in the house.
- Store products in their original containers and keep all medicines and chemicals locked up in a cabinet out of the reach of children.
- Take either the product or the child with you if you have to leave the room even for a moment.
- Pour old medications down the drain or toilet, rinse the container, and dispose of it. Never throw medication or products in the trash.
- Keep household items and food stored separately to avoid confusion.
- Recycle hazardous waste such as batteries and motor oil instead of throwing it away.
Signs of Use
- Sudden chest or abdominal pain or cramps painful crying
- Nausea / vomiting / diarrhea
- Chills or shaking
- Unusual thirst
- Cold and clammy skin, pale or bluish skin (may have inhaled toxic fumes, move child to fresh air)
- Difficulty breathing
- Burns around mouth, lips, tongue convulsions, coma
- Disorientation, dizziness, drowsiness slurred speech
- Lack of coordination loss of consciousness
Checklist of Common Household Poisons
- Unusual behavior
- Product container nearby
- Smell chemical odors
- See flames or smoke
- Medicine cabinet is open
- Damaged plants
Below are only some of the poisons that can be found in the home. Inspect your own home, read labels, and consult with product manufacturers, your doctor, or the Poison Control Center if you have any further question or concerns.
Under the sink and in cupboards
Garage, Basement, Workshop
- Cleaning solutions & waxes
- Powder and liquid detergent
- Cleanser and scouring powder
- Drain cleaner / lye
- Carpet and upholstery cleaners
- Oven cleaner
- Cooking oils, non-stick sprays
- Food supplements containing iron
Bedroom and Purse
- Windshield washer solvent
- Bug killer / weed killer
- Gasoline / motor oil
- Charcoal lighter fluid
- Turpentine, paint, paint
- Remover and thinner, varnish
- Antifreeze (smells sweet and attracts pets)
- Car cleaning supplies
- Sleeping drugs / medicine
- Jewelry cleaner
- Cosmetics perfume
Closets, Attic, and Storage Places
- Soap and detergent
- Bluing, dye
- Spot remover
- Rat poison and ant poison
- Moth balls and spray
- Alcoholic beverages
- Lamp or candle oils
- Tobacco products (cigarette butts, tobacco chew juice)
- Glue, adhesives
- Flaking paint
- Repainted toys
- Broken plaster
- Carbon monoxide (the colorless, odorless, poison gas emitted from home water heaters, motor vehicles, BBQ grills, and combustion exhaust)
- Acetaminophen, aspirin
- All drugs and pills, medicine (cough syrup)
- Iron pills, vitamins with iron
- Shampoo, wave lotion and spray
- Lotions and creams
- Nail polish and remover
- Toilet bowl cleaner
- Pine oil and bath oil
- Rubbing alcohol
- Room deodorizer, air fresheners
- Camphor (found in beauty products and muscle-pain ointments)
- Personal care products
- Flowers - azaleas, lily-of-the-valley, monkshood, florist flowers, hyacinths, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, rhubarb Leaves
- BBQ grill
- Scales on the cap
- White gills
- Light-colored inner cap
- A ring on the lower part of the stem
- A base that looks like a bulb
Some poisonous mushrooms may not have any of these characteristics and some safe mushrooms may have some of these as well, so never eat a mushroom if you aren't sure it's safe.