Preventing poisoning

Many household products contain substances that are poisonous to children. Children learn by putting things in their mouth, which makes them especially vulnerable to being poisoned. It’s important to store poisonous substances safely out of reach of children. Every poison is treated differently, so keep the details of your local poison treatment centre on hand in case of an emergency.

  • Children younger than five years of age are most at risk because they learn and explore by putting things in their mouth.
  • Children are unable to recognise bad odours and flavours and are attracted to colourful packaging.
  • Children also can’t tell the difference between tablets and sweets.
  • Medicine
  • Cosmetics
  • Household products
  • Pesticides
  • Plants, berries and mushrooms
  • Flammable liquids
  • Alcohol
  • Button-sized batteries
  • ALWAYS store poisonous products out of sight and reach of children, e.g. in a locked cupboard, high up where children can’t reach.
  • ALWAYS put poisonous substances away immediately after use.
  • Remember that childproof containers are not 100% childproof.
  • ALWAYS administer medicines in a well-lit room, read medicine instructions carefully and administer the prescribed dose.
  • NEVER refer to medicines as sweets or lollies to make them more attractive.
  • Avoid taking medicines in front of children; they love to imitate adults, especially their parents.
  • Do not share medicines.
  • Do not store medicines in handbags.
  • Dispose of unnecessary medicines. Unused medications can be returned to the local clinic.
  • Keep handbags that contain cosmetics out of reach.
  • ALWAYS leave chemicals and detergents in their original containers; don’t transfer them to cooldrink bottles.
  • Keep loose batteries and battery-controlled devices away from children and place a piece of sticky tape over the battery case
  • Teach your children about the dangers of eating anything from the garden.
  • Be especially careful when visiting other homes, as they may not have stored their poisons as safely as you



  • If a potentially harmful substance has spilt on a person, remove their clothing (protecting your hands from the substance) and wash their skin, and eyes if affected, with plenty of fresh water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Move people to fresh air if a poisonous gas or smoke has been inhaled.
  • If a person is unconscious, gently turn them into the recovery position and tilt the chin upwards so that they can breathe freely, then call an ambulance.
  • Call Poisons Information Helpline: 0861 555 777 immediately for further advice about what to do, any time of the day or night every day of the year.


  • If a person has ingested something potentially harmful, do not make them vomit.
  • Do not force them to drink anything (not even milk), although you may rinse their mouth with water.