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First Aid and Emergencies

Poisoning

Prevention - Home Treatment

FOR ANY POISONING: Call 911 or your local poison control centre immediately.

Children will swallow just about anything, including poisons. When in doubt, assume the worst.

Always believe a child who indicates that he or she has swallowed poison, no matter how unappetizing the substance is.

If you suspect food poisoning, See Stomach Flu and Food Poisoning.

Prevention

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About 80 percent of poisonings occur in children between the ages of 1 and 4. Develop poison Prevention habits before your child is born or certainly before he or she is crawling. Infants grow so fast that sometimes they are crawling and walking before you have time to protect them.

  • Never leave a poisonous product unattended, even for a moment.

    Lead Poisoning

    Infants and young children who eat or drink things that contain lead are at risk for developing learning disabilities and growth problems.

    Lead is present in old paint, water pipes, and other substances. Lead-based paint may be a hazard in older homes, especially if the paint is flaking or peeling and a child eats the paint flakes.

    To reduce the risk of lead poisoning:

    • Keep painted surfaces in good repair. Clean paint flakes and chips from older painted surfaces (such as floors and windowsills) carefully.

    • Keep young children away from home remodeling and refinishing projects.

    • If your home has lead or lead-soldered water pipes, use cold water and let the water run for a few minutes before using it for cooking or formula.

    • Have your child's blood tested for lead at about 1 year of age.

    • Call your local health unit or public health office for more information about preventing lead poisoning.

  • Lock all drugs and vitamins away from children. Aspirin is the most common source of childhood poisoning, especially flavoured baby aspirin. Lock up drugs between doses.

  • Do not keep poisons, such as drain opener, dishwasher detergent, oven cleaner, or plant food, under your kitchen sink. Keep them completely out of the reach of children. Dishwasher detergent is especially dangerous.

  • Keep products in their original containers. Never store poisonous products in food containers.

  • Use childproof latches on your cupboards.

Home Treatment

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  • Call a poison control centre, hospital, or health professional immediately. Have the poison container with you so you can describe the poison. You will be told whether it is safe to make the person vomit.

  • Do not have the person vomit if he or she:

    • Is having convulsions.

    • Is unconscious.

    • Has a burning sensation in the mouth or throat.

    • Has swallowed a corrosive agent or petroleum product (dishwasher detergent, lye, bleach, disinfectant, drain opener, floor wax, kerosene, grease remover).

  • If suggested by the poison control centre, induce vomiting by placing a spoon or finger at the back of the person's throat.

  • When vomiting begins, place the person's head lower than his or her chest to keep vomited material from entering the lungs.

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