Accidental Poisoning: Common Culprits

An accidental poisoning can be a life or death situation. Knowing the symptoms of poisoning can help you get treatment quickly… but knowing the most common household hazards can help you prevent the situation entirely.

A poison is any substance that disrupts the normal function of the body. Poison can be eaten or drunk, inhaled, injected, or absorbed through the skin.

Keep your local poison control center phone number handy! Put a copy of that number (and other emergency numbers) in your first aid kit AND post an emergency phone list by your house phone. You don’t want to have to scramble around for the number if someone has been poisoned. If you can’t find the number quickly, call 911.

Some poisonous items found around the house can include: cleaners (like bleach and drain cleaners), chemicals for the car (like gasoline and antifreeze), paint thinner, lighter fluid, personal care items (like rubbing alcohol and hair dye), alcoholic drinks, insecticides and rat poison, prescription and non-prescription medications (an overdose can disrupt normal body function). Some indoor and outdoor plants and berries may also be poisonous to humans or pets — it may be wise to do some research before bringing a plant into your home or yard.

With so many potential poisons around the house, you need to be mindful. Make sure dangerous substances are clearly marked — and teach your children how to recognize the symbol for poison. Keep dangerous substances on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet, rather than in places where curious hands can find them. Never store poisons in food containers or other containers — keep them in the original package so you can see the name and ingredients if need be. Plus, you don’t want someone to mistake a harmful item for a food item!

Knowing what poison was ingested helps medical professionals determine how to treat the victim — another good reason to keep potentially harmful substances in their original containers.