Toddler and Preschool  |  Elementary  |  Infants  |  Poison safety and prevention

National Poison Prevention Week 2014 Children Act Fast... So Do Poisons

The Bottom Line

More than 1.4 million children get into poisons every year. Preventing poisonings is most important. But, if children do get into a poison, call Poison Control right away. The 24-hour number is 1-800-222-1222.

The Full Story

National Poison Prevention Week is observed every year during the third full week of March. In the U.S. alone, Poison Control manages more than 1.4 million calls about children who got into poisons. What did they get into? The list starts with household products and goes on to drugs of all kinds, mushrooms, snakes, spiders, batteries, and tiny toys. The most dangerous poisons for children include medicines, cleaning products, automotive chemicals, and hydrocarbons.

What is the first step to keep kids and poisons apart? Get down on your hands and knees! Look at your home from your child's eye level. A handbag on the floor? Forgotten pills dropped in the carpet? Liquor bottles in an unlocked cabinet? Medicine on the nightstand? That's before you get to the obvious problems, such as cleaning products under the sink and remote controls with an unsecured battery compartment. Then, do the same thing in every home that your child visits, including grandparents' homes.

The tried-and-true advice works best:

  • Use child-resistant closures on medicines and household products.
  • Close caps tightly after each use.
  • Store medicines and poisons high up, where children can't see or reach them.
  • Read the label carefully before giving medicine to children - each and every time.
  • Call medicine by its correct name. Don't call medicine candy.
  • Beware of button batteries! Be sure new and used batteries are kept away from children.Tape over any battery compartments that aren't secured with a screw.

Be ready for a possible poisoning:

  • Put the Poison Control phone number on or near each phone.
  • Program the Poison Control number into your phones: 1-800-222-1222.
  • To get magnets, phone stickers, and printed info, call 1-800-222-1222.  
  • Make one of your browser favorites.
  • Download the webPOISONCONTROL® app on the App Store or Google play.
  • If you have a question about a poison or medicine, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. Experts will answer your questions 24 hours a day.

If a poisoning happens, act fast:

  • Clear anything out of the child's mouth. Rinse eyes and skin with running water if the poison was splashed or spilled. Get to fresh air if the poison was breathed in.
  • Call Poison Control right away at 1-800-222-1222. Do NOT wait for symptoms to show up! Call immediately; most problems can be managed over the phone with Poison Control guidance.

Rose Ann Gould Soloway, RN, BSN, MSEd, DABAT emerita
Clinical Toxicologist

For More Information

National Poison Prevention Week Posters from the Poison Prevention Week Council


Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr., Bailey JE, Ford M. 2012 Annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 30th annual report. Clinical Toxicology. 2013; 51:949–1229.


Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • Children can't swallow what they can't reach. Lock up medicines and poisons where children can't see or reach them.
  • Use child-resistant closures on medicines and household products.

This Really Happened

An 11-month-old boy was playing with an open bottle of medicine. He swallowed an unknown number of his grandparent's blood pressure pills. The child became unconscious and his heart rate dropped to 30. When he got to the emergency room, the boy had stopped breathing. Then, his heart stopped. He could not be revived.