Poisoning in Children

Poisoning may be accidental or intentional— drugs (includes prescribed and street), chemicals, animal bites, plants, and household cleaners are all potential poisons. They can hurt or kill you! 90% percent of all potential poison exposures happen in the home. Children are the most common victims of accidental poisoning. Children age 0-5 make up 51% of all calls to poison centers (4.3million/yr), but they account for only 2 percent of the deaths. Cosmetics and personal care products are the leading substances this age group gets into.

Adolescents sometimes use poison to end their lives. Teens (13-19) show a higher rate of intentional poison exposures than other age group. 49% of teen poison exposures are intentional. The National Institute of Mental Health believes that as many as 25 suicides are attempted for each one that is completed. That means that for every teen suicide that you hear of, there are probably at least 25 suicide attempts made.

Students going back to school will use energy drinks to stay awake to study or party.

The caffeine content of these drinks is a lot more than a cup of coffee. Caffeine toxicity can easily and does occur. Athletics using these drinks actually have a diuretic response that is they will lose water the opposite effect of what they are trying to achieve-staying hydrated!

Know that a poison or toxin can affect  anyone through skin contact, injection, fumes by  Inhalation, or swallowing.  There are 60 Poison Help Center nationwide operating 24/7 and you can reach your local by dialing 1-800-222-1222 from anywhere. Remember, All questions about poisons are smart questions.



  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache
  • Altered consciousness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Local irritation at site of exposure (eye, skin, airway)


Do not rely solely on a container’s label for first aid information.

Do not force vomiting or give fluids to a child unless told to by a physician or the Poison HELP Center. Be sure the child is totally conscious beforehand.

Do not assume everyone wants to get well.

Don’t leave a child alone if attempted suicide is suspected.





Send someone to get medical help.

Protect yourself from exposure to the poison while administering first aid.

For poison in the eye: Don’t delay. Begin flushing immediately.

  • Hold the lids open and pour fresh water over eye or position under slowly running water.
  • Water should flow from the inner area of the eye next to the nose to the outer area, to avoid contamination of the other eye.
  • Flush for at least 20 continuous minutes before you go for medical attention. It is the duration not the amount of irrigating that is important.

Get medical attention for any chemical burns of the eyes.

For poison on the skin take off any clothing that the poison touched and rinse the skin with running water for 15-20 minutes.

For inhaled poison, move the child to fresh air right away.

Call Poison Help Center at 1-800-222-1222 for specific instructions. They will want to know:

  • Type of  poison
  • How exposed to poison
  • Age of child
  • Estimated amount and time occurred
  • Child’s condition
  • Follow Poison Help Center’s instructions!


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