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What to do in a Child Poisoning Emergency

March 1, 2019

Accidental poisoning in a child is something you never want to happen, but unfortunately it can. Children are curious creatures. Just think about the babies in Rugrats. Sure, it’s a cartoon, but they had epic adventures every day that went unnoticed by the parents. Children like to explore and they get into things all the time. Sometimes that means ingesting things they shouldn’t. If such an accident should happen, it’s best to be prepared and know what to do in advance.


If a child ingests certain medicines, household products, pesticides, chemicals, or cosmetics, they can get very sick. Serious reactions can even lead to death. However, if children are treated immediately, there’s often no long-term damage.


If your child is acting odd and you find empty or opened dangerous nonfood items near them, the likelihood that they’ve been poisoned is high. Make sure you move the item out of reach, then make your child spit out any of the dangerous material that may still be in their mouth. While making them vomit might seem like a good idea, this actually has the potential to do more bad than good. If your child is experiencing any serious symptoms (like seizures), isn’t breathing, or has become unresponsive, immediately call 911. If none of these symptoms are present, you’ll want to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers immediately at 1-800-222-1222. Available 24/7, they’ll connect you to your nearest poison center. If you have small children, it’s best you become familiar with this number, or keep it posted on a list of important numbers. You’ll need to answer a series of questions, including your child’s name, age, and weight, the name of what they ingested and how much, any existing medical problems, and any medicines in their systems. You may need to go to the hospital, or the poison experts on staff will be able to tell you how to treat your child at home.


Poison on your child’s skin will require you to remove their clothing and rinse the skin for several minutes before calling Poison Help. If poison gets in your child’s eye, you will need to flush their eyes with room-temperature water. Experts recommend flushing their eye for fifteen minutes before calling Poison Help to determine further steps. If your child inhales poisonous fumes (from a car, leaky vents, faulty appliances that use gas, etc.), get them to fresh air immediately. Start CPR if they’ve stopped breathing, and have someone call 911. If they’re breathing, call Poison Help for instructions.


You can baby-proof your home as best as possible, but sometimes children still find a way to get into dangerous substances. Make your home as poison-safe as possible by keeping household products, chemicals, and medicines locked up or out of your child’s reach. Put locks or safety latches on cabinets that contain potentially poisonous substances. And be sure you memorize the Poison Help number or keep it handy!