If a child swallows a poison

Do not make the child vomit or force them to drink lots of fluids.

Call the National Poisons Centre on 0800 764 766, or 111 for an ambulance. 

Poisonings at home often involve young children playing with:

  • medicines
  • household cleaners, eg, disinfectants, bleach
  • garden chemicals, eg, pesticides, baits
  • home improvement products, eg, paint, polish
  • cosmetics, hair colour, oils, etc.

Safe storage of medicines

  • Some medicines and poisons are packaged in containers with child safety caps that can be re-closed after opening. These caps have to be squeezed and turned at the same time or pushed down and turned at the same time. Always make sure the caps are put back on correctly.
  • These safety caps may be difficult to open and slow down the time it takes for a child to get to the contents, but they are not child proof.
  • Some other medicines and poisons are packaged in strip foil, and blister packs. These are hard to open, but cannot be re-closed. Once open, the contents are easily available to children.
  • Adults, especially older people, might have some difficulty opening and closing child-resistant packages. Do not transfer the contents into another container or leave them within reach of children.
  • Safe storage out of sight and reach is the best protection from poisoning.

Ways to reduce the risk of young children being poisoned

  • Limit the quantities of poisons in and around your home and garden shed.
  • Ask for child safety caps on your medicines and use all child-resistant packaging as instructed.
  • Check that you can open and close child safety caps before you leave the pharmacy.
  • Always read the labels of medicines and poisons, so that you know how to use them correctly.
  • Lock away all medicines and poisons in high cupboards with safety catches.
  • Keep an eye on what young children are doing.
  • Throw out old and out of date medicines.