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Preventing accidental poisoning at home

March 15, 2023 

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports more that than 90% of all poisonings happen at home. Cosmetics and personal care products lead the list of the most common substances implicated in pediatric poison exposures.

According to the most recent data from the NSC, one poison exposure was reported to U.S. poison control centers every 15 seconds in 2020.  

As part of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital reminds you about the dangers of potentially poisonous medicines and chemicals and shares tips on how to keep your loved ones safe.  
“In the emergency department, we treat accidental poison consumptions that can range from children swallowing soap or cleaning products to adults taking an unadvised dosage of certain medicines,” said Dr. Michel Adonis, interim medical director of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Pediatrics. “It’s important to keep any potentially harmful products out of the reach of children and in childproof containers. Always read labels carefully before taking any medications.” 
If you encounter someone who was potentially exposed to poisonous substances:  

  1. Call 911 if they are unconscious or having difficulty breathing. 
  2. Remain calm. 
    • Most poison emergencies can be resolved quickly over the phone. 
  3. Contact the Poison Control helpline. 
    • Online help is available at poison.org or by phone at 1-800-222-1222. Both options are free, confidential and staffed by experts. 

Preventive measures are always the best way to protect your family from accidental poisoning. Tips include: 

  • Place household cleaning products up and away, out of children’s reach and sight. Make sure to put cleaning supplies and chemicals away after every use. 
  • Keep all household cleaning products in their original containers. When buying products, look for child-resistant containers for an extra layer of protection. 
  • Check your home for products that might be harmful to kids like cleaning supplies, liquid laundry packets, plants, pesticides, alcohol and medicine. Keep personal care products such as lotion, makeup, cleanser and deodorant where kids can’t get into them. 
  • Be aware of any medications or makeup that may be in your purse, laptop bag or backpack. Store handbags out of the reach of young children. 
  • Never call medicine “candy” to get a child to take it when needed.

 For more information on how to protect yourself and your family, visit poison.org.  

For care that is accessible and high-quality, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Convenient Care is available within the O’Fallon Medical Building at 1512 N. Green Mount Road in O’Fallon and is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Patients can walk-in without an appointment to receive care for minor illnesses, sprains and strains and minor lacerations. In addition, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon pediatricians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in St. Elizabeth’s emergency department and newborn nursery to offer pediatric care for any emergent health issues. 


Preventing accidental poisoning at home