Poison Prevention

Missouri Regional Poison Center
Emergency Phone number:

(800) 222-1222 or (800) 366-8888

What to do

According to the U.S. Poison Control Centers:

  • A child is accidentally poisoned every 30 seconds
  • More than 50% of all poisonings by children under the age of five occur at home
  • Poisonings kill about 30 children annually and cause 1 million calls to poison centers

Is your child at risk? By learning how to keep your children safe from common household products these poisonings can be prevented.


Here are some steps in preventing poisonings:

  • Keep common household chemicals and medicines out of sight and out of the reach of children. Use special toddler locks for kitchen counters and store cleaners and medicines on higher shelves whenever possible.
  • Ask your pharmacist for child-proof containers and never take your medicine in front of your children.
  • Discard all old medications by flushing them down the toilet. Do not throw pills in a trash can.
  • Read and follow directions on all household chemicals. Mixing some chemicals together can create a toxic chlorine gas or chloramines. Label your products accordingly and know what is toxic. Make sure that when using chemicals, you are in a well-ventilated area and wearing proper protective attire.
  • Remember that indoor and outdoor plants can be poisonous to children. Find out which plants are poisonous and remove them from your household.
  • Use "Mr. Yuk" stickers on all your poisonous products. Teach your kids never to touch a product with a Mr. Yuk sticker on it.
  • Teach your children to ask an adult before putting anything in their mouths.
  • Have all gas appliances checked regularly for leakage and damage.
  • Always store chemicals in their original containers.
  • Do not remove labels from old medication bottles and do not mix medications together.
  • Do not take medications that are expired or intended for someone else.
  • Use extra caution during mealtimes or when the family routine is disrupted. Many poisonings take place during these times.
  • Syrup of Ipecac is an essential medication in the home of every adult. This syrup induces vomiting in children and adults in the event of a poisoning. Never give Ipecac syrup, activated charcoal, Epsom salts or anything else to treat your child unless you have spoken to a poison control center first.
  • Discuss poison proofing with your children's caretakers.
  • Keep the telephone number of your local Poison Control Center on or near your telephone.

Household poisons include:

  • Medicines of all kind
  • Iron pills and pain relievers
  • Cleaning products
  • Cosmetics and personal care products
  • Pesticides, including law and garden chemicals
  • Household and auto maintenance supplies
  • Carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can be produced by automobile exhaust, improperly working furnaces, gas-fueled hot water heaters, wood stoves or charcoal burned indoors
  • Improperly stored or prepared foods
  • Alcohol
  • Plants and wild mushrooms
  • Seasonal candies or plants. During winter holidays, avoid decorating with holly or mistletoe berries. At Halloween, discard non-commercial treats such as fruits and homemade goods and make sure wrappers are intact.

Tips to avoid food poisoning:

  • Wash counter tops, utensils and hands with warm, soapy water before and after preparing food.
  • Thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
  • Avoid leaving perishable food outside the refrigerator for more than two hours.
  • Don't use canned foods with bulging lids or cracks.
  • Thoroughly cook all meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
  • Keep picnic foods in an ice chest or cooler, out of direct sunlight, until serving time.


Physical symptoms of poisoning may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Sweating
  • Changes in Consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Burns around the lips, tongue or on the skin

What to do

If you suspect someone has been poisoned, find out:

  • Why type of poison it was
  • How much was taken
  • When it was taken

Follow these guidelines if you suspect someone has been poisoned:

  • Check the scene to make sure it is safe to approach and gather clues about what happened. If necessary, move the victim from the source of poison.
  • Check the victim's level of consciousness, breathing and pulse.
  • Care for any life-threatening conditions.
  • If the victim is conscious, ask questions to get information.
  • Look for any containers and taken them with you to the telephone.
  • Call your Poison Control Center or local emergency number. Follow the directions of the Poison Control Center or EMS dispatcher.