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Poisons Information Centre

13 11 26

Poisoning Prevention


In New South Wales, every year, thousands of children and adults need medical care for poisoning from products commonly found in and around the home. Commonly, accidental poisonings occur in children younger than five, with children aged one to three at greatest risk.

Why are children more likely to be poisoned?

Young children are exploring their world and will put anything in their mouths. They also like to imitate what others do, including taking medications.

What can be poisonous to your child?

Medicines, cleaning, laundry, gardening and car products, insecticides, perfumes, paint, plants, insects and many others.

How can you prevent a poisoning?

  • Store medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, at least 1.5metres off the ground and in a locked child resistant container.
  • Use medicines and chemicals safely. Follow given instructions and return them to safe storage immediately after use.
  • Buy products in child resistant containers and use child resistant locks on cupboards or cabinets that store poisons. You can buy these at many hardware stores.
  • Ensure all products are stored in original containers and are clearly labelled.
  • Regularly dispose of unwanted and out of date medicines by taking them to your nearest pharmacy for safe disposal.
  • Don't call medicines 'lollies'.
  • Check that the plants in your garden are not poisonous. Refer to Poisonous plants fact sheet.

How do adults get poisoned?

Adults may be exposed to poisons in several different ways:

  • Accidental poisoning may occur in the home or workplace
  • Recreational poisoning from the intake of alcohol and/or various illicit drugs or chemicals
  • Deliberate self-poisoning - any person attempting deliberate self-harm should ALWAYS be referred to hospital for assessment and counselling
  • Occupational/industrial poisoning related to exposure to chemicals, gases or other substances in the workplace.
This document was updated on Monday, 31 March 2014.

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