have a possible poisoning emergency, call 1-800-222-1222
and you will be automatically transferred to the closest poison control
Many of the items in our homes can be poisonous to
children—household cleaners, medicines, cosmetics, garden products, and
houseplants. If these items are not kept out of reach, your child could
swallow, inhale, or eat these toxic substances or get them on his or her
Young children have the highest risk of poisoning because
of their natural curiosity. Products that are poisonous to children can also
Use the following tips to keep dangerous products or
items away from children.
- Choose the least hazardous product available for the
- Use the lowest-risk form and the smallest amount of product
- Never leave a poisonous product unattended,
even for a moment. Many poisonings occur when an adult becomes distracted by
the doorbell, a telephone, or some other interruption.
household plants out of reach. Many are poisonous if they are chewed or
- Use childproof latches on your cupboards. And be careful
of what you store in your bedside table and other cupboards that are lower than
your shoulder height.
- Keep products in their original labeled
containers. Never store poisonous products in food containers.
"Mr. Yuk" stickers, and teach your children to recognize them. These stickers
are available from your local poison control center or hospital.
- Post the phone number to the poison control center or emergency
room in several places throughout the house.
- Purchase items that are in child-resistant
- Choose multi-use products to cut down on the number of
different chemicals around your house.
- Read product labels for caution statements, how to use the
product correctly, and first aid instructions. Common poisonous substances
- Cosmetics, nail care products, and
- Arts and crafts products, such as
- Bleach, dishwasher detergent, detergent pods, drain and toilet bowl cleaners,
furniture polish, and other cleaning products.
- Windshield washer
fluid and antifreeze.
- Turpentine products, kerosene, lye, lighter
fluid, and paint thinners and solvents.
- Garden products, especially
products that kill insects, pests, or weeds.
- Batteries and
- Reduce your child's exposure to lead in your home, drinking water, foods and other items. For more information, see the topic Lead Poisoning.
House and garden poisons
- Keep products completely out of the reach and
sight of children. Do not keep poisons, such as drain opener, detergent, oven
cleaner, or plant food, under your kitchen sink.
- Look for words
that signal the level of poison danger in pesticide products. The word
"Caution" on a pesticide label means the product is slightly toxic. The word
"Warning" means the product is moderately toxic. And the word "Danger" means
the product is highly toxic.1 For more information, go
to the National Pesticide Information Center website at www.npic.orst.edu.
only nontoxic arts and crafts materials.
- Check your home for lead paint chips if your home was built before 1978.
- Don't forget your garage when poison-proofing your home. Keep
poisons and flammables out of reach of children. For example, kerosene, lamp
oil, gasoline, and fertilizers are all poisonous when ingested. Many products
kept in garages also are fire hazards.
Alcohol and medicines
- Keep alcohol, medicines (including vitamins),
and dietary supplements out of the sight and reach of children.
Aspirin is a common source of childhood poisoning, especially flavored "baby"
- Keep children away from tobacco products and e-cigarette cartridges. They contain nicotine. If a child eats nicotine, he or she can get very ill or die.
- Do not take
medicines in front of your young child. Children like to mimic adult actions.
They may eat something inappropriate in an attempt to be like you.
Educate your child about the effects of alcohol and medicines.
- Never call medicines "candy."
- Keep medicines in their
original labeled containers.
over-the-counter medicines that have child-resistant
- Check the expiration dates on medicines. Mix old medicines into coffee grounds or cat litter and put them in the trash. Don't flush them down the toilet.
Chemicals and fumes
- Never mix chemicals.
cleaners or chemicals in their original containers.
- Only use
chemicals in well-ventilated areas.
American Association of Poison Control
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Environmental Illness
- Health and Safety, Ages 2 to 5 Years
- Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years
- Lead Poisoning
- Tips for Reducing Pesticide Exposure in Your Home
National Pesticide Information Center (2008). Signal words. Available online: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/signalwords.html.
Other Works Consulted
Wang G, et al. (2014). Poisoning. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 357–386. New York: McGraw-Hill.