How to prevent poisonings

Poison Proofing

photo of personal care items in bathroom
  • Start early. By the time a child starts to crawl (6 months old), the home needs to be "poison proof."
  • Set up safe storage areas. Potential poisons should be stored in cabinets located up high, preferably with safety locks.
  • All household chemicals and medicines should be stored in safe areas.
  • Use child-resistant caps. If the caps no longer work, replace them.
  • Keep products in their original containers. Never put poisons in other containers, especially food or beverage containers. Avoid using pill cases or plastic baggies for medication.
  • Keep purses and diaper bags out of reach. They may have potentially poisonous products and medicines that are easily accessed.
  • Keep alcohol drinks and mouthwash away from children.
    Keep paint in good condition.  No chipping or peeling.
  • Do not store food items and non food items together.
  • Do not forget to poison proof the garage.


  • Read and follow directions on the container.
  • In low lighting, turn on light and read label to ensure taking or giving proper medication.
  • Dispose of old medicine appropriately.
  • Keep medication in the original containers.
  • Do not take medication in front of children since they like to imitate adults.
  • Never tell children that medicine is candy or call it candy.
  • Teach children to never take medication unless you give it to them.
  • Use child resistant caps but remember child resistant caps are not child proof.
  • Always keep medication, including vitamins, locked up in safe storage area.  Do not leave on dressers, tables, and countertops.
  • About 20 percent of drug ingestions by children involve a grandparent's medication. Poison proof grandparents' home. Make sure grandma's purse is not available. Be careful of weekly pill minders, though they help to organize medication, most are not child resistant.


  • Keep houseplants out of a young child's reach.
  • Identify the name of all your plants, both indoors and outdoors. Label each of your plants with the correct botanical name.  You can bring a sample to a plant store to get the correct name.
  • Consult the poison center's "Plant Guide" to find out how poisonous each plant is.
  • Mushrooms and berries are particularly attractive to young children. Teach your children never to put mushrooms, berries, or any part of a plant including leaves, flowers, stems, bulbs, or seeds in their mouths.
  • Mushrooms are especially abundant after a rainfall. Remove mushrooms from your yard and dispose of properly after each rainfall.
  • Do not assume a plant is non-poisonous because birds or wildlife eat it.
  • Do not rely on cooking to destroy toxic chemicals in plants.
  • Never use anything prepared from nature as a medicine or "tea."

Buying products

MN Poison Chemical Burns Sign Photo
  • Choose products carefully.
  • Read Labels Warnings: Caution < Warning < Danger Hazards: Flammable, corrosive, explosive.
  • Compare products.
  • Choose products with safety closures.
  • Buy least amount needed to avoid leftovers.

When using products

  • Use products safely.  Read and follow directions, Example: Wear gloves or use in well ventilated area.
  • Follow directions for storage.
  • Do not mix chemicals.
  • Return all products to safe storage immediately after use.
  • Do not leave your child or pet alone while using a product. Poisonings happen very quickly. If the phone or doorbell rings, take the child with you.

Be Prepared

  • Have the Poison Center's phone number 1-800-222-1222 available or programmed into the telephone.
  • If there is a question or a potential poisoning call the Poison Center. It's better to be safe than sorry. Do not wait for symptoms to appear; symptoms may often be delayed. Always call for help if someone may have been injured or poisoned. If you suspect a poisoning, call the Poison Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. Poison Information Specialists are available at the Poison Center seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Remind others to be poison safe

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Provide a safe place for visitors to put their belongings while in your home.

MN Poison Control System

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[email protected] 1-800-222-1222

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