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What should I do if my child swallows poison?

If your child swallows poison the most important thing is to take the item away and not to make your child vomit as it may cause more damage.

If your child has no or minimal symptoms, first call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. The Poison Control Center operators will tell you the next steps to take for your child.

Call 911 for immediate medical care if your child's ingestion is accompanied by any of the following:
  • Your child does not look well.
  • Your child loses consciousness.
  • Your child is experiencing seizures or convulsions.
Always be sure that cleaning solutions and medications are locked and out of your child's reach. Also, ensure that visitors keep all medications (even over-the-counter medications) locked and out of reach.
If your child swallowed poison, unless your child is unconscious, having convulsions, or cannot swallow, give him a glass of water to drink. Then call a poison control center. Do not make him vomit and do not follow first-aid instructions on the product label; they may be wrong.
If you find your child with an open or empty container of anything that isn’t food, he may have eaten something poisonous. Stay calm and act quickly. First, get the item away from your child. If there is still some in his mouth, make him spit it out or remove it with your fingers. Keep this material along with any other clues about what your child ate. Save the container to help doctors determine exactly what and how much was swallowed. If your child is unconscious, not breathing, having convulsions, or having seizures, call 911 right away. If the poison is very dangerous or your child is very young, you may be told to go straight to the nearest hospital. If not, you will be asked for the following information and told what to do at home:
  • Your name and phone number
  • Your child’s name, age, and weight
  • Any medical conditions your child has
  • Any medicine your child is taking
  • What your child swallowed -- read the name off the container and spell it
  • How much you think your child swallowed and when

From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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    The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents

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    If your child swallows poison:

    • Stay calm, act fast.
    • Get the item away from the child and have him spit out anything that's left in his mouth. Save the container so the docs know what was swallowed.
    • Call emergency hotline if your child is unconscious, not breathing, or convulsing (having seizures).
    • If your child does not have these symptoms, call the Poison Control Center. If the poison is very dangerous or your child is very young, you may be told to go straight to the nearest hospital. If not, you will be given instructions on what to do. In most cases, you are usually told to head immediately to your doctor's office or the local ER.
    Ipecac (or syrup of ipecac), which helps you vomit, is no longer recommended for any ingestion, because of the risk of throwing up and having vomit go down the wrong passage into the lungs, where it is highly inflammatory. If a toxin gets in the eye, you may be told to flush the eye with water but not to let the child rub it.
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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.