Accidental Poisoning Prevention

During the month of March we want to raise awareness of accidental poisonings in children. Accidents can occur when children have access to medication, chemicals, toxins, poisons, cleaning products, and edible products containing marijuana. If we keep these potentially harmful items away from children and educate children on what to do if they encounter something unsafe, we can help prevent accidental poisonings from happening.

According to the Upstate New York Poison Center, the top 5 Poisonings in 2020 for children 5 and younger were:

  • Personal care products (most exposure/information calls for: hand sanitizers)
  • Household cleaning products (most exposure/information calls for: bleach, laundry pods)
  • Foreign objects (most exposure/information calls for: toys, silica gel, glow sticks)
  • Analgesics (most exposure/information calls for: children’s liquid acetaminophen)
  • Dietary supplements (most exposure/information calls for: melatonin)

Keep Personal Care Items Out of Reach

Hand sanitizer is kept everywhere these days. Make sure you always keep hand sanitizer and all personal care items out of a child’s reach.

Things like nail polish remover, essential oils, eye drops, astringents, and mouthwash are sometimes kept at eye level or below for small children and can potentially make a child very sick if ingested.

Vitamins and dietary supplements can look like gummies or candy and should always be kept away from children.

Keep Medication Locked Away

The Upstate New York Poison Center reports in 2021 they handled nearly 29,000 cases for an unintentional medication error and nearly 16,000 of those cases were for kids under the age of 6. Make sure you keep all medication locked up and out of reach of children. This includes prescription medication, over the counter medication, and all edible marijuana products.

Use child locks on any cabinets where you keep medication so curious children cannot access them. It is important that caregivers never refer to medication as candy and don’t store medications where food is normally kept.

Follow the Correct Dosage

Medication should always be kept in its original bottle or packaging so you know exactly what the medication is, what the instructions are, and the correct dosage. If medication is stored in its original bottle or packaging then you also have access to expirations dates. Make sure to regularly discard expired medication. Always follow the correct dosage for medication. If you are not sure of the correct dosage, call your pediatrician or ask a pharmacist. Remember this includes over the counter medication.

Be Aware of Places You Store Medication and Personal Care Items

Check your purse or bag!  A great tip from the Upstate New York Poison Center is to always make sure you are aware of what medication might be in your purse. This could be an easy access point for children if you set your bag down and leave it unsupervised.

Remember to keep track of places in your car where you might keep over the counter medication, such as Tylenol in a glove box, or a gym bag that might contain personal care items.

Chemicals, Toxins, and Poisons

According to the poison center, most poisonings are unintentional and often occur…

  • When a product is in use
  • When a product is taken out of the original container
  • When the product looks, smells or tastes good to a child

Always store poisons in their original containers so they are never mistaken for something else. Many chemicals look like other things and these items can easily be confused by children as something safe to play with or drink. For example, household cleaners that are blue or yellow in color can look like juice. The poison center has a great list on their website of common household dangers and their look-alikes,

Be aware of cleaning products or chemical usage around the house when they are taken out of a locked cabinet. If cleaning a bathroom for example, make sure there is not a child nearby who could easily grab the chemicals.

Follow these rules into the garage and outside, as well. Pesticides, weed killers, inspect repellants, fertilizers, oils and fuels can all be harmful to children. Always be diligent about how these items are stored and where children are when they are in use. Antifreeze which is commonly stored in a garage, is sweet to the taste. This is especially dangerous to children who might not be deterred if they accidently ingest it.

Edibles that Contain Marijuana

Many edible products look just like candy and are in packaging similar to candy packaging. The Upstate New York Poison Center reported this year that, “From 2019 until now, we’ve seen the number of calls to our poison center for edible products more than quadruple over that period of time.”

According to the poison center, children exposed to THC can develop symptoms that include changes in heart rate, difficulty breathing, vomiting, changes in mental status and even seizures.

Edibles can also be made at home or in someone else’s home where there is no packaging that indicates dosage or ingredients. Brownies, baked goods or teas made with marijuana can easily look safe to children or other adults who are not aware the items may contain THC.

Stop and Ask First

Teach your children that if they ever find medicine or chemicals, they should always stop and ask an adult. Children should never touch, smell or put it in their mouth.

When it comes to accidental poisonings we must stay diligent to keep potential dangers locked away from children. Program the Upstate Poison Center’s number in your cell phone and call them if you have any questions or seek immediate medical attention, 1-800-222-1222.


Poison Prevention Tips | Upstate New York Poison Center | SUNY Upstate Medical University

How to prevent poisonings in children — and what to do if they happen – Harvard Health

Poisoning Prevention | Children’s Safety Network (