Keep Children Safe From Poisoning


In 2014, poisoning was the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths in Tennessee. Though anyone can be a poisoning victim, children are more likely to be affected. In 2014, 5,665 children visited the emergency room due to poisoning, and 50 percent of those children were ages 5 and under.

In your own home, always keep potentially harmful items locked up and away from your child. Remember the most common causes of poisoning among young children are cosmetics and personal care products, household cleaning products and pain relievers.

Prevent Medication Poisoning

Here are some ways to prevent you and your children from suffering from poisoning through medications, both prescription and non-prescription:

  • Always read labels and follow the exact directions for any medication, whether it’s a prescription drug or an over-the-counter medication.
  • Give children medicines based on their weights and ages, and only use the dispensers that come packaged with children's medications.
  • Never refer to medicine or vitamins as "candy."
  • Do not have children help you take medication.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before combining any prescription and/or over-the-counter medications. Many incidents of poisoning result from mixing or misusing medicines.
  • Be aware of medications in your handbag, backpack, gym bag or other carryall. Store these bags out of the reach of young children.
  • Dispose properly of medications you no longer need. Find a secure medication drop-off box near you.

Prevent Poisoning from Household Items

It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to keeping possibly harmful household products away from your child. Be sure to follow these simple but potentially life-saving guidelines:

  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers and clearly labeled.
  • Never put a potentially poisonous product in something other than its original container (such as a plastic soda bottle), where it could be mistaken for something harmless.
  • Know which household products are poisonous.
  • Lock up poisons out of children’s sight and reach. That includes e-cigarettes, which can lead to overexposure to nicotine.

Make Your Home Safer

Poison prevention is a year-round job. Here are a few more ways to keep your home safe for your child:

  • Prevent carbon monoxide buildup by making sure heating appliances are in good working order and used only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Never use an outdoor grill indoors for cooking or heating.

Poison Hotline

If you have a poison emergency and need lifesaving treatment advice, call the Poison Help hotline immediately at 800-222-1222.

More Resources

Learn more about childproofing your home at kidcentral tn.

The Tennessee Poison Center provides information about poisons and poison prevention.

Get more poisoning prevention and other safety tips at

Learn more about poisoning prevention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.