Newshub headline with Children's Wisconsin logo
Little girl smiling and crawling

Steps to prevent household poisonings in children

More than half of the 2.5 million calls to poison centers in the U.S. every year involve children 5 and younger, according to the Wisconsin Poison Center. Nine out of 10 poisonings occur at home. Items like laundry detergents, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, plants, beauty products, pesticides, alcohol and many more are just some of the items to watch out for.

Keeping your home safe for children

Poisons are often odorless and tasteless. Here are some tips to avoid household poisonings:


  • Store all medications, including vitamins and adult medicines, out of reach and out of sight of children. It’s tempting to keep it handy, but accidents can happen fast. It only takes a few seconds for a child to get into medicine that could make him very sick.
  • Buy child-resistant packaging and, to avoid confusion, keep products in their original containers.
  • Safely dispose of old medicines.


  • Use safety locks on cabinets containing poisonous items. Remember that children are often eye-level with anything you put under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Read product labels to find out what can be hazardous.
  • While in the past, swallowing laundry detergent has caused mild symptoms, the new, smaller packets seem to cause more severe reactions. Use extra vigilance keeping these out of reach.

Carbon monoxide

  • Never use an oven or stovetop to heat your home.
  • Outside your home, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home and make sure they’re at least 15 feet from any fuel-burning appliances.

Accidents will still happen

Despite your best efforts, accidents still happen, so in the event that you do face a poison emergency, there is still plenty you can do. For poison in the eyes, rinse the eyes with running water. If it’s on the skin, remove any clothing that the poison touched and wash skin. For inhaled poison, get to fresh air right away.

In all of these situations, call the Wisconsin Poison Center at (800) 222-1222

The Wisconsin Poison Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the staff can answer any question you have. Help them out by avoiding home remedies or trying to make someone vomit. You could just make things worse. If a person is showing more immediate, dramatic symptoms, such as a seizure, collapse or stops breathing, call 911 right away.

Home should be considered one of the safest places a child can be. With just a little bit of common-sense prevention, it can definitely stay that way.