Keep the number of your local poison control centre near the phone.

The Ontario Poison Centre (1-800-268-9017) provides an up-to-date list of the ones in Canada. In the event your child is potentially poisoned, contact your regional poison information centre. If your province or territory does not have a poison control centre, dial 911.

Three children ages 14 and younger die each year in Canada, on average, from unintentional poisoning. Another 900 suffer serious injuries that require hospital treatment.”

Public Health Agency of Canada
White capsule pills spilling out of a glass container

Medications

Medications are the leading cause of poisoning in children. Experts recommend you keep these small packets, bottles of pills or syrups in a locked box stored on a high shelf.

Keep all medication in original child-resistant packaging.

Young children explore their world by putting things in their mouths. Child-resistant packaging is required by law for certain medications. It reduces the chance of your child being poisoned. However, a small percentage of children are still able to open medication containers. It is best to use medicine containers that contain small doses.

Never refer to medicine as candy.

Be extra careful with medicines that may taste good to your child, such as chewable vitamins and fruit-flavoured syrups. Children learn by touching, tasting and by imitating others.

Always read the label and check the dosage each time you give or take medicine.

Keep products in their original container, to help you remember the medication and the dosage.

When visitors come to your home, make sure they keep their purses or bags out of your child’s reach.

Visitors may have unsafe and dangerous products with them. Keep their belongings out of your child’s reach just as you do your own.

Other products that cause child poisoning

  • Household cleaners
  • Personal care products, such as mouthwash or nail polish
  • Car supplies

Many children have swallowed poisonous products because adults did not store these properly or took them out of their original containers.

Keep all potential poisons locked up and out of reach

As your child grows, they become increasingly active and can more easily reach and open cabinets.

pouring antifreeze into car

Make your home a poison-free zone by storing the following poisons in a high-up cabinet that can be locked using a lock, with the key stored in a hidden location, or with a latch that can’t be opened by a child:

  • Household cleaners, such as oven cleaner, bleach and laundry detergents, including single-dose packets.
  • Car supplies, such as windshield washer fluid and antifreeze. These products are very poisonous. Even small amounts can cause serious injury.
  • Cosmetics, such as nail polish remover.
  • Pesticides, which should be kept in their original containers and stored in a cool, dry place.

Prevent plant poisoning

While children benefit greatly from outdoor play and learning about how plants grow, some can be poisonous if eaten or cause irritation if touched.

  • Know all plants in and around your home and garden.
  • Label each plant in your home with the specific name (e.g. Devil’s ivy vs. just ivy).
  • Keep all houseplants, seeds and bulbs out of reach of children.
  • Teach children never to put leaves, flowers, seeds, nuts or berries in their mouths without first checking with an adult.
  • Never eat wild mushrooms or unfamiliar wild berries. Many poisonous mushrooms look like mushrooms that are safe to eat.
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