How to Prevent Poisoning

In 2015, there were more than 3,700 poison calls as a result of children eating or playing with cleaning products.

It is estimated that as many as 30 children a day are being poisoned by liquid laundry detergent pods.

A poison is any substance (solid, liquid or gas) which can cause damage if it enters the body in sufficient quantities. Poisons can be swallowed, breathed in, absorbed through the skin or injected.

Prevention is key. The Childhood Accident Prevention Trust and Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents both work tirelessly to prevent accidents in children and their websites are full of really useful tips and advice.

  • Keep all potentially harmful substances out of reach of small children and ideally in a locked cupboard. This includes laundry detergent capsules, dishwasher tablets, medicines, alcohol, cosmetics, DIY, cleaning and gardening products.
  • Although they can be helpful, don’t rely on child proof caps and bitter tasting (Bitrex) to keep your child safe.
  • Ensure grandparents and visitors are careful about leaving potentially hazardous substances within reach, particularly medication.
  • Never decant medication or other products into different containers, always use original containers, clearly labelled, with childproof lids if possible.
  • Keep batteries out of reach of small children and ensure batteries in toys, gadgets and birthday cards are firmly secured.
  • Fit carbon monoxide alarms and have appliances and alarms regularly checked.
  • Be aware of harmful plants – many decorative plants are toxic. Plants can be checked through the Royal Horticultural Society or by asking your local florist or horticultural nursery.

Learn what to do if a child has been poisoned here.


First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made or actions taken based on this information. The best way to be prepared for action in an emergency is to attend a practical first aid course or do one online.

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