Keeping children safe from poisonous substances

Every week around 500 children under five are rushed to hospital because it's thought they have swallowed something poisonous. Find out how putting a few simple measures in place can stop this happening to your child.

Storing medicines

Keep medicines well out of reach and out of sight of young children.  Put them in a high locked cupboard or cabinet.

Don’t keep them:

  • on your bedside table – your child can easily get into the bedroom without being seen
  • in your handbag – this is a favourite place for toddlers to find tablets
  • in the fridge – ‘keep cool’ usually means keep away from direct sunlight or warm places like radiators

If a medicine needs to be kept in the fridge it will say so on the box. If it does, keep it as high up and as hidden as possible.

Medicines - general tips

  • keep the caps closed on medicine bottles and put all medicines away immediately
  • remember that while child-resistant caps may slow a child down, they are not child-proof
  • keep all medicines in their original containers so it is clear what is in them and it is harder for children to open them
  • take extra care with tablets in see-through packs or brightly coloured tablets – they are especially tempting to children
  • don’t count out your tablets for the day and then leave them lying around
  • take your medicine when your child isn’t around so they don’t try to copy you
  • teach your child about the safe use of medicines and never pretend they are sweets
  • take left-over medicines to your local chemist for them to throw away safely
  • keep an eye on your children in other people’s houses as they may not follow the same safety rules as you

Storing household chemicals and products

  • keep all household chemicals and cleaning products - including detergent tablets for the dishwasher or washing machine - out of sight and in cupboards with child-resistant catches
  • keep potentially harmful products high up and out of reach – never under the sink or on the floor by the toilet
  • move products out of reach if you are called away while using them – for example if the phone rings while you are cleaning the toilet
  • dispose of empty containers safely and out of your child’s reach

Household chemicals and products – general tips

  • look for products with child-resistant caps but remember this does not make them child-proof – some children as young as three can open them in seconds
  • remember that detergent capsules come in boxes that aren't child-resistant
  • look for products with a bittering agent – this makes them taste horrible and helps stop young children swallowing them
  • remember that cigarettes, alcohol, perfume, aromatherapy oils and mouthwash can all be poisonous to children
  • never strip old furniture or paintwork where there are young children (or pregnant women) present – the dust may contain lead which is harmful

Storing chemicals outdoors

  • keep all chemicals like paint, white spirit, oil, anti-freeze, weed-killers and pesticides high up, out of reach and out of sight
  • fit a padlock to the cupboard, shed or garage where they are kept
  • keep all chemicals in their original, labelled containers – do not put them into another bottle or container

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which can build up when household appliances that use flames - like boilers, water heaters, stoves or open fires - are faulty and are not getting enough oxygen to burn efficiently. Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous as it has no smell, taste or colour, so it is very difficult to know when it is being produced.

You can guard against carbon monoxide poisoning by doing the following:

  • fit and regularly check carbon monoxide alarms where there is a flame-burning appliance
  • make sure you keep ventilation outlets in your home free from blockages
  • have your flame-burning appliances regularly serviced by a qualified engineer
  • have your chimney swept regularly

First aid

If you think your child has swallowed a harmful medicine or chemical:

  • get advice immediately from your pharmacist, doctor or hospital accident and emergency department
  • find the bottle or packet and take it with you if you go to the hospital
  • don’t give your child salt water or anything else to make them sick
  • don’t give your child anything to drink – just wet their lips with cold water if they are burning
  • if the child is unconscious or there is burning to the mouth, dial 999 immediately

Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT)

The information on this page is provided by CAPT.

 

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.