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Poison is any substance that can cause illness, injury or death. Poisonings can occur when a harmful substance is swallowed, inhaled, or comes in contact with the skin or eyes. Some poisons cause mild symptoms like a rash or upset stomach, while others can cause a more serious reaction. 

Call Poison Control 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-800-222-1222. Put the number on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. 

Poison Safety

Medications: Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter

  • Read all labels and follow all directions. Some medicines may not interact well with other medicines or if you’re drinking alcohol.  
  • Only take the prescribed or recommended dose. Medicine can make you sick if you take the wrong kind or if you take too much. 
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers. 
  • Keep medicines in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.  
  • Never share prescription drugs.  
  • Turn on a light when you give or take medicines at night so you know you have the correct amount of the correct medicine.  
  • Dispose of unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs.
  • Avoid taking medicine in front of children because they often copy adults. 
  • Don’t call medicine "candy."  
  • Be aware of any drugs that guests may bring into your home. 
  • Don’t leave medicines where children can find them, for example, in a purse, backpack, coat pocket or exposed on counters or end tables.

Household Chemicals

  • Always read the label before you use a product that may be poisonous.  
  • Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. 
  • Don’t use food containers to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.  
  • Never mix household products together. It can result in toxic gases. 
  • Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) if you spray pesticides or other chemicals.  
  • Turn on the fan and open windows when you use chemical products such as household cleaners.  
  • Don’t leave household products out after you use them. Return them to a secure cabinet as soon as you’re done so children and pets avoid injury. 

Carbon Monoxide

  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas-, oil- or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.  
  • Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911.  
  • Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated.  
  • Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage, or near a window outside.  
  • Never run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.  
  • Ensure all stoves and fireplaces are properly vented.
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven. 

What to Do if a Poisoning Occurs

Remain calm. If you have a poison emergency, dial 911 if the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222.

Try to have this information ready: 

  • the victim's age and weight  
  • the container or bottle of the poison  
  • the time of the poison exposure 
  • the address where the poisoning occurred 

Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

Additional Tips

Although bright and pretty, the poinsettia plant is poisonous. Identify plants and shrubbery at home and in your yard so you know what to avoid. 

If you don't know what something is, don't put it in your mouth. Poisons, like medicines and chemical cleaners, may look like candy or something to drink.