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Missouri Poison Center - For Adults 

Poison resources for adults 

What To Do If Your Child Is Poisoned

Medication Poisoning

Food Poisoning

Poison Prevention Top 10

House Safety


What to Do If Your Child is Poisoned

If a poisoning does occur, it's important that the adult react calmly and quickly to take appropriate steps.   Those steps include:

  • Call 911 if the person is unconscious.
  • Call the poison center if the person is conscious.
  • Be ready with important information, such as the child's name, age, weight, condition and existing health conditions or problems.
  • Know the substance involved and how it contacted the child, any first aid which may have been given and whether the child has vomited.
  • Know your location and how long it will take you to get to a hospital.

Inhaled poisons: Immediately get the person to fresh air. Avoid breathing fumes. Open doors and windows wide. If victim is not breathing, call 911 and begin CPR, if able
Poison on the skin: Remove contaminated clothing and flood skin with water for 10 minutes. Then wash gently with soap and water, and rinse.
Poison in the eye: Flood the eye with lukewarm (not hot or cold) water poured from a plastic cup 2 or 3 inches from the eye. Repeat for 15 minutes. Have patient blink as much as possible during irrigation. Do not force eyelid open.
Swallowed poison (medicines and chemical or household products): Do not give anything by mouth until calling the poison center.

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Medication Poisoning

Doctors prescribe medications to make people well, but when they are misused, they can have the opposite effect. Following these precautions can help prevent medication poisoning:

  • Follow your doctor or pharmacist's directions for taking the medicine they have prescribed. Read the information on usage and side effects. If you don't understand something, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Never mix different medications in one bottle. Never add leftover medicine from one container to a new container.

  • Know which foods, drinks and medicines may interact if taken with your daily medicine.

  • Take or give medicine while you are alert in a well lit area. If you wear glasses, put them on to ensure you have the right medicine.

  • Take your medicines on a schedule and for the entire duration prescribed, even if you feel better.

  • Contact your doctor to inform him or her before you take an herbal or natural product, as they can interact with your prescribed medications.

  • Do not crush, chew or break capsules unless instructed to do so by your doctor or pharmacist.

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Food Poisoning

Most cases of food poisoning are not life-threatening and can be treated at home. Food poisoning is caused by contamination from bacteria. Some bacteria generate enough toxin to poison a person directly. Other types produce an infection that causes illness.

Symptoms of food poisoning mimic the flu, and include:

  • Sudden abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sometimes fever

Symptoms occur within 2-24 hours of eating contaminated food. If these symptoms appear, find out what that person ate. If the illness is food poisoning, other people who ate the same foods may exhibit symptoms.

Drink clear fluids to avoid dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea. Call your doctor if these symptoms last more than 24 hours.

Food Poisoning is Preventable...

  • Buy foods below the thaw line in grocery store freezers.

  • Thaw meats in the refrigerator instead of on the counter.

  • Cook meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly.

  • Refrigerate left over foods immediately.

  • Separate raw from cooked items. Wash hands, utensils, dishes and cutting boards after they have touched raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food. Never put cooked meat on the same platter that held the raw meat.

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Salads with mayonnaise should be kept at 42 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the refrigerator is at that temperature.

  • Some honey contains botulism spores, which can become bacteria when swallowed. For this reason, do not give honey to children aged one year and under.

  • Follow proper home canning procedures to discourage bacterial growth.

  • When in doubt, throw it out. There's no way to detect for sure if a food is poisoned. Contaminated food may look, smell and taste fine. Discard any food that has an off taste or smell.

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Poison Prevention Top 10

  1. Keep potential poisons locked up and out of children's sight and reach.   Educate your children, yourself, grandparents and caregivers about possible poisons in the home.

  2. Post the nationwide poison hotline number (1-800-222-1222) near you telephone to access the Missouri Poison Center or the poison center nearest your home.

  3. Buy products in child-resistant packaging whenever possible.   The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that child-resistant packaging for aspirin and oral prescription medication has saved the lives of about 900 children since packaging requirements were introduced in the 1970s.   But remember, this packaging is child-resistant, not childproof, and is designed to keep children away from the product only for a short time before a parent intervenes.

  4. Never leave potentially poisonous household products unattended while in use.   Many exposures occur when an adult takes a moment to answer the telephone or doorbell.

  5. Remember that there is no such thing as a 'safe zone' when it comes to poisoning.   National statistics indicate that 41 percent of poisoning accidents occur in the kitchen, followed by 26 percent in the garage or basement, 21 percent in the bathroom and 12 percent in the bedroom.   Interestingly, many poisonings occur during a family's move to a new home, when potentially hazardous items are on the floor or easy to reach.

  6. Avoid taking medicine in front of children, as they tend to copy the actions of adults.   Also, never refer to medicine as 'candy' and always follow exact dosage directions in giving children medications.

  7. Store pesticides in a locked cabinet or garden shed.   A recent survey by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed that almost half (47 percent) of all households with children under the age of 5 had at least one pesticide stored in an unlocked cabinet and less than four feet off the ground.

  8. Know the botanical names of all plants inside and outside your home.   Some plants and flowers can be toxic if eaten.   If you don't know the name of a plant, have it identified at the nearest gardening center in your area.

  9. Have your home tested for lead-based paint if it was built before 1971.   Children can become lead-poisoned from ingesting chips or breathing dust from old, heavily-leaded paint on walls and other surfaces.

  10. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that every home have at least one carbon monoxide detector in the area near the bedrooms.

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House Safety

These suggestions can help keep your house safer for children:

  • Keep products in their original containers. Do not use cups, soda cans or bottles, or jugs as storage containers.
  • Cleaning products, chemicals and medicine should be stored separate from food items. The products should be stored out of sight and out of reach of children.
  • Never call medicine candy or make a game of taking it.
  • Communicate with other adults taking care of your child. Children often get overdoses of medicine when one caregiver forgets to tell others that the child has already received the required dose.

Poison checklist

This list will help identify potential poisons throughout your home. These items should be stored out of reach of children to avoid harm to children.

  • Perfume, cologne
  • Hairspray
  • Deodorant
  • Nail polish, polish remover
  • Medicines
  • Eye drops
  • Topical salves and ointments
  • Medicine (over-the-counter and prescription)
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste
  • Shaving products
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cosmetics
  • Hair care products
  • Automatic dishwashing detergent
  • Soap and detergents
  • Furniture polish
  • Drain cleaner
  • Ammonia
  • Oven cleaner
  • Metal polishes and cleaners
  • Antifreeze
  • Brake fluid
  • Motor oil
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Fertilizers
  • Gasoline, kerosene
  • Paint, paint thinner
  • Swimming pool supplies
  • Windshield wiper fluid
  • Mothballs
  • Lamp oil
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Miscellaneous cleaners
Laundry Room
  • Laundry detergents
  • Bleach
  • Stain removers
  • Fabric softeners
Throughout the house
  • Plants
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco Products
  • Rodenticides

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