In New South Wales, every year, thousands of children and adults need
medical care for poisoning from products commonly found in and around the
home. Commonly, accidental poisonings occur in children younger than
five, with children aged one to three at greatest risk.
Why are children more likely to be poisoned?
Young children are exploring their world but are unaware of potential
dangers. They are curious and will often put things in their mouth to
explore their taste and texture. They also like to imitate what others
do, including taking medications. Children are at increased risk of
poisoning when family routine is changed, e.g. on holidays, moving house
or having visitors who are on medications.
How can you prevent a poisoning?
Closely supervise children around the home
Don't call medicines 'lollies'. When giving medicine to children,
always follow the instructions on the label
Buy products in child resistant containers but remember that the lids
are not completely child-proof - a curious and determined child may
eventually open these containers. Always make sure that the
child-resistant lid is on properly after each use
Store all poisons including medicines, cleaning products and
chemicals in their original containers that are clearly labelled.
Return medicines and poisons to their safe storage area
immediately after use. Do not leave them out on a bench or counter
Do NOT decant liquid chemicals into drink bottles
Place containers in a child-resistant locked cupboard that is
at least 1.5 metres above the ground
Keep handbags out of a child's reach if storing medicine or other
poisons in your handbag
Be extra vigilant when normal family routine is changed, e.g going on
holidays, moving house, having visitors who are on medications
Dispose of unwanted household chemicals - contact the EPA CleanOut
line 131 555 or www.cleanout.com.au
Take any unwanted or out-of-date medicines to your local pharmacy or
Check out our Poisons Safety Checklist to reduce the risk of
poisoning in your home, garden and shed
Check that the plants in your garden are not poisonous - refer to Poisonous Plants fact sheet.
Resources available on poisoning prevention include
Kids and Poisons brochure
Kids and Poisons First aid fridge magnet
Poisons Information stickers
To order resources please go to https://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/resources-order
How do adults get poisoned?
Adults may be exposed to poisons in several different ways:
Medication errors are a common problem, especially for the elderly
who may be on many drug treatments
Accidental poisoning may occur in the home or workplace
Recreational poisoning from the intake of alcohol and/or various
illicit drugs or chemicals
Deliberate self-poisoning - any person attempting deliberate
self-harm should ALWAYS be referred to hospital for assessment and
Occupational/industrial poisoning related to exposure to chemicals,
gases or other substances in the workplace