LHSC’s Trauma Program shares poison prevention tips

Friday, March 21, 2014

During National Poison Prevention Week, London Health Sciences Centre’s Trauma Program is sharing important tips to help keep our children safe from harm. In Canada it is estimated that 7 children (under the age of 14) die every year from poisoning and approximately 1,700 are hospitalized for poison related injuries.

67% of all unintentional poisoning of children (under the age of 14) are due to improper use, handling, and storage of medication. The remaining 33% of poisonings include a wide range of products and substances such as household cleaners, alcohol, plants, fertilizers, pesticides, paint thinner and anti-freeze. Many children have swallowed poisonous products that were not stored properly or were taken out of their original container.

“We have recently added a Safe Start video, which includes a module on poisoning, to our Home Safety Device Program,” says Jane Harrington, Injury Prevention Specialist, LHSC. Funded by Children’s Health Foundation, a nine piece safety kit designed to reduce or eliminate preventable household injuries to children are distributed to expectant parents.

Tips to keep children safe from poisoning:

Safe Use:

  • Don’t take medication in front of your children as kids tend to imitate others.
  • Don’t refer to medication as candy.
  • Take and give medications as prescribed. Read labels carefully.
  • Check expiration dates.

Safe Storage:

  • Lock up all medications, household cleaners, alcohol, fertilizers, pesticides, paint thinners and anti-freeze.
  • Keep all medications and household products in their original containers/packaging.
  • Do not keep your medication in the bathroom as heat and moisture can spoil them.

Safe Disposal:

  • Clear out old prescriptions and expired medications.
  • Do not throw old/expired medications in the garbage or down the toilet. Return unused medication to your pharmacist for safe disposal. 

What to do if someone is poisoned:

  • Be careful not to taste, touch or breathe in the poison yourself.
  • If the person is unconscious, convulsing, or having trouble breathing or swallowing: Call 911 immediately

For swallowed poisons:

If the person is awake:

  • Give small sips of water.
  • Do not try to make the person throw up (vomit). Throwing up can be dangerous.
  • Call the Poison Centre.

For breathed in poisons:

If the person is awake:

  • Take the person to fresh air.
  • Call the Poison Centre.

For poisons in the eye:

  • Rinse the eye with lukewarm water for 15 minutes.
  • Call the Poison Centre.

For poisons on the skin:

  • Rinse the skin with lukewarm water for 15 minutes.
  • Take off any clothing touched by the poison. 
  • Call the Poison Centre.

Ontario Poison Control contact information:

Phone Number:  416-813-5900 
Toll-Free:  1-800-268-9017 
Teletype:  416-597-0215 or 1-877-750-2233 
Fax:  416-813-7489 
Website:  http://www.ontariopoisoncentre.com/poisoncentre/   



Ontario Poison Centre. (2007). Education: for families. Retrieved from http://www.ontariopoisoncentre.com/ontariopoisoncentre/section.asp?s=For+Families&sID=7930

Safe Kids Canada. (2007). Child and youth unintentional injury: 10 years in review, 1994-2003. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.lakeheadu.ca/lib/ocullakeheadhealth/docDetail.action?docID=10350909&p00=poisoning