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What to do in a Poisoning Emergency

​Children can get very sick if they come in contact with medicines, household products, pesticides, chemicals, or cosmetics. This can happen at any age and can cause serious reactions. However, most children who come in contact with these things are not permanently hurt if they are treated right away.

Poison Help

  • 1-800-222-1222 is a nationwide toll-free number that directs your call to your local poison center.
  • Call 1-800-222-1222 if you have a poison emergency. This number will connect you right away to your nearest poison center. A poison expert in your area is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also call if you have a question about a poison or poison prevention. You can find prevention information at
  • Be prepared. Post the Poison Help number by every phone in your home and program the number in your cell phone. Be sure that caregivers and babysitters know this number.


Swallowed poison

If you find your child with an open or empty container of a dangerous nonfood item, your child may have been poisoned. Stay calm and act quickly.
  • First, get the item away from your child. If there is still some in your child's mouth, make him spit it out or remove it with your fingers. Keep this material along with anything else that might help determine what your child swallowed.
  • Do not make your child vomit because it may cause more damage.
  • If your child is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
  • If your child does not have these symptoms, call the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222. You may be asked for the following information:
    • Your name and phone number
    • Your child's name, age, and weight
    • Any medical conditions your child has
    • Any medicine your child is taking
    • The name of the item your child swallowed (Read it off the container and spell it.)
    • The time your child swallowed the item (or when you found your child), and the amount you think was swallowed
  • If the poison is very dangerous, or if your child is very young, you may be told to take him to the nearest hospital. If your child is not in danger, the Poison Help staff will tell you what to do to help your child at home.

Poison on the skin

If your child spills a dangerous chemical on her body, remove her clothes and rinse the skin with room-temperature water for at least 15 minutes, even if your child resists. Then call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222. Do not use ointments or grease.

Poison in the eye

Flush your child's eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room-temperature water into the inner corner. It is easier if another adult holds your child while you rinse the eye. If another adult is not around, wrap your child tightly in a towel and clamp him under one arm. Then you will have one hand free to hold the eyelid open and the other to pour in the water. Continue flushing the eye for 15 minutes. Then call the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222. Do not use an eyecup, eyedrops, or ointment unless Poison Help staff tells you to.

Poisonous fumes

In the home, poisonous fumes can come from:
  • A car running in a closed garage
  • Leaky gas vents
  • Wood, coal, or kerosene stoves that are not working right
  • Space heaters, ovens, stoves, or water heaters that use gas
  • If your child is exposed to fumes or gases, have her breathe fresh air right away. If she is breathing, call the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, and ask about what to do next. If she has stopped breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until she breathes on her own or someone else can take over. If you can, have someone call 911 right away. If you are alone, wait until your child is breathing, or after 1 minute of CPR, then call 911.


You can help make your home poison-safe by doing the following:
  • Keep all medicines and household products locked up and out of your child's reach.
  • Use safety latches on drawers and cabinets where you keep objects that may be dangerous to your child.
  • Be prepared for a poisoning emergency. Post the Poison Help number by every phone in your home and program the number in your cell phone. 1-800-222-1222 will connect you right away to your nearest poison center. (Be sure that your babysitter knows this number.)
Last Updated
Protect Your Child From Poison (Copyright ? 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 4/2013)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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