Babysitting: Dealing With a Poisoning

Poisoning incidents involving kids usually are the result of eating or drinking household cleaning products or overdosing on medicines, and often happen in the home.

In many cases, a poison emergency can be treated with advice from the Poison Control Center hotline (1-800-222-1222). Before calling the hotline, get the bottle or box of whatever the child has swallowed. If you do not have the box or bottle, tell the hotline or emergency medical personnel — as best you can — exactly what the child has swallowed.

Possible signs and symptoms that a child drank or ate something poisonous:

  • drowsiness
  • sudden change in behavior
  • unusual odor
  • visible evidence of medicine or cleaning products on the lips or clothes
  • excessive drooling
  • vomiting

If the child becomes very sleepy and difficult to arouse, call 911 immediately.

Here are some ways you can help prevent poisonings:

  • Ask parents to lock away all cleaning products, alcohol, batteries, medicine, insect sprays, and any other dangerous substances.
  • Always supervise the children.
  • Put any personal medication you carry out of the reach of the kids.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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