courtesy of

Parentmedic NQ

Accidental poisoning is common, especially among toddlers aged between one and three years, so an important number to have in your phone is the Poisons Helpline 13 11 26.

Children explore their environment as part of their normal, natural development. They learn about new things by playing e.g., trying to open containers, mimicking what they see siblings or adults do and by putting things in their mouth. Swallowing a poisonous substance, spilling it on the skin, spraying or splashing it in the eye or inhaling it can all lead to poisoning.

A child may also be poisoned, if they are given the wrong medicine or a wrong dose of medicine. Always double check the age and dosage instructions before giving medicine to children. If you are unsure about dosages, check with your pharmacist.

Young children do not know the difference between what is safe and what is dangerous. It is your responsibility to make your home safe for your children. Do not assume that your child can understand safety messages. Telling a child, a product is dangerous, is not enough to protect them from poisoning.

As a parent/carer, have you thought about how many potentially poisonous substances there are in and around the home?


  • Baby bottle cleaners
  • Dishwashing detergent, including dishwashing tablets/powder
  • Liquid cleaners like floor cleaners
  • Matches
  • Oven cleaners
  • Rat and insect poisons
  • Spray cleaners e.g., window and bench sprays


  • Shower or tile cleaners
  • Deodorants
  • Makeup including nail polish remover
  • Medicines
  • Moisturisers and gels
  • Mouthwash
  • Perfume or aftershave
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Shampoo, conditioner, soaps and bodywash


  • Mothballs
  • Essential oils e.g., eucalyptus oil
  • Medications

Family Area

  • Air fresheners
  • Alcohol
  • CD and DVD cleaners
  • Incense
  • Pot pourri


  • Bleach and ammonia
  • Laundry detergent
  • Drain cleaner
  • Floor polish
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Stain remover and ironing aids
  • dyes


Garage and Shed

  • Acids
  • Cement and lime
  • Adhesives, coatings, varnishers
  • Fertiliser
  • Glues
  • Herbicides and weed killers
  • Kerosene and turpentine,
  • Car care products
  • Paints and paint thinners
  • Pesticides
  • petrol

Yard and Garden

  • Mushrooms
  • Plants
  • Animal droppings


Symptoms of Poisoning

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Falling over
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizure


First Aid for Poisoning

  • If the poison is swallowed, do NOT try to make the child vomit.
  • If the poison enters the eye, flood the eye with cool water from a running tap or cup/jug and continue to flush for 15 minutes holding the eyelid open.
  • If the poison contacts the skin, remove contaminated clothing, taking care to avoid contact with the poison and flood the skin with cool running water.
  • If the poison is inhaled, immediately get the child to fresh air, without placing yourself at risk. Avoid breathing in the fumes and if it is safe to do so, open doors and windows wide.

Call the Poisons Helpline 13 11 26 and take the product with you to the phone, so you have all the product details.
Staff at the Poisons Helpline will assess the information and decide what needs to be done and advise on appropriate first aid. They will tell you if you need to go to the GP or to the hospital

Safety Points to Remember

  • Install child resistant locks on all cupboards.
  • Do NOT store poisons in the food cupboard.
  • Put all chemicals away immediately after use.
  •  Store all medicines in a locked cabinet. If you carry medicines in your handbag, make sure the bag is kept out of reach of children, including visitor’s handbags.
  • Store household chemicals such as cleaning or gardening products out of children’s reach, preferably locked away.
  • Avoid distractions when administering medicines and follow the dosing instructions on the label. Parents and carers should establish a ‘checking system’ e.g., a checklist on the fridge, with dates and times of medication administered.
  • Store poisons out of reach and out of sight, including those stored in the refrigerator, particularly if it is a brightly coloured liquid.
  • Don’t underestimate a child’s ability to climb and reach things.
  • Check the child-resistant cap is working on medicine and cleaning containers, and make sure the cap is shut properly after use.
  • Avoid taking medicines in front of your children – they copy everything you do.
  • Never refer to medicines as ‘lollies’.
  • Always keep your dishwasher door locked.
  • Don’t leave paintbrushes to soak in mineral turpentine within your child’s reach.
  • Never transfer chemicals or cleaning products to another container, especially food or drink containers and follow directions on the labels.
  • In an emergency, call 000


The information provided by Parentmedic North Qld is for general informational and educational purposes only. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. The use or reliance of any information is solely at your own risk.

Loretta Woodford is passionate about educating parents and carers to be confident in an emergency through her Baby/Child First Aid sessions. She is a Registered Nurse with a Master in Nursing (Education) and the Owner of Parentmedic North Qld

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