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Understanding the risks of poisoning

Babies and toddlers like to explore their environments by putting things in their mouths, so it’s important to always keep harmful substances out of their reach.


Painkillers are one of the most common culprits when it comes to poisoning. Don’t forget to put medicines away and always avoid leaving them lying around the house, such as on a bedside table. Most medicine packaging is not childproof.

Toddlers may also like to copy what adults do, so try not to take any medicines in front of them.

Detergent capsules and concentrated liquids/chemicals

They are often found under the sink in the kitchen and bathroom, but these chemicals are toxic to ingest and can cause damage to the skin and eyes too. You should move these to a high lockable cupboard, out of the sight and reach of children.

Garden chemicals

Make sure any DIY or garden chemicals are locked away and out of reach, either in the shed/garage or the house. Garden chemicals should always be kept in their original bottles too. Teach your child not to eat anything they pick in the garden, such as plants and berries, which can look very similar to food!

Kids wearing wellies outside


Even very small amounts of alcohol can harm young children, so clear away any cans, bottles, or glasses after drinking.

Hospitals are also noting an increase in children being admitted after swallowing e-cigarette liquids, which can cause serious poisoning in small children. Aromatherapy oils, perfumes and tobacco can also be harmful if ingested. Just like other hazardous household items, keep them out of sight and reach of children at all times.

Carbon monoxide

You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide gas, but if it leaks out of an appliance it can kill. Make sure that you have an audible carbon monoxide alarm fitted in your home – ideally one in every room with a fuel-burning appliance.

When visiting the homes of friends and relatives, keep an eye out for all of these poisoning hazards and take a moment to make sure they are safely out of reach.

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Page last reviewed: 25-11-2021

Next review due: 25-11-2024