Poison Prevention Tips

“Everything is a poison — only the dose differentiates a poison from a remedy,” according to Paracelsus, a Medieval Swiss physician. For example, the proper dose of acetaminophen will relieve a child’s fever or an adult’s headache — an overdose may destroy the liver. Most poisonings can be prevented through simple interventions. 

Here are some poison prevention tips to keep your child and entire family, even your pets, safe from accidental poisoning:


  • Keep all medications and potentially harmful products and even plants out of the reach of children.
  • Never tell a child that a medication is candy as a way to encourage them to take their medicine.
  • Perform daily surveillance throughout your home to identify substances, even shiny coins that may be within the reach of a curious child.
  • Always use child-resistant closures properly. Never leave the child-resistant closure off of the product or closed improperly.
  • Never induce vomiting in a child who has swallowed a potential poison—call the Pittsburgh Poison Center.
  • Have the 24/7 ‘Poison Help’ toll-free number 1-800-222-1222 programmed into your telephones.


  • Read and heed product labels.  They will inform you how to use a product safely.
  • Never place medications or products into unsafe or unlabeled containers.
  • Have at least one carbon monoxide alarm in your home, preferably placed near the sleeping quarters.
  • Educate everyone about the dangers of poisons and the improper use of medications.
  • Help senior citizens and other individuals who require the use of multiple medications use medication organizers to prevent accidental overdoses.
  • Have the 24/7 ‘Poison Help’ toll-free number 1-800-222-1222 programmed into your telephones.

What to do if a poisoning exposure occurs:

  • Stop further exposure to the poison.
  • If the person has collapsed or stopped breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
  • Call the Pittsburgh Poison Center or the national ‘Poison Help’ telephone number 1-800-222-1222 without delay.
  • When you call the Poison Center, have the container available so that you can tell the specialist in poison information what the person or pet was exposed to.
  • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get everyone to fresh air immediately and contact the Poison Center for assistance.

Additional resources