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Facts for Life

Injury prevention

Supporting Information


Medicines, poisons, insecticides, bleach, acids and liquid fertilizers and fuels, such as paraffin (kerosene), should be stored carefully out of children's sight and reach. Dangerous substances should be stored in clearly marked containers and never in drinking bottles. Child-resistant closures, where available, should be used on the containers of poisonous products.

Why it is important - All key messages - First aid advice - Resources

Poisoning is a serious danger to small children. Bleach, insect and rat poison, paraffin (kerosene) and household detergents can kill or permanently injure a child.

Many poisons can kill, cause brain damage, blind or permanently injure if they:

  • are swallowed
  • are inhaled
  • get onto the skin
  • get into the eyes.

The key to preventing poisoning is to keep harmful substances out of children's reach.

  • Poisons should never be put in soft drink or beer bottles, jars or cups, as children may drink them by mistake. All medicines, chemicals and poisons should be stored in their original containers, tightly sealed and out of children's reach.
  • Detergents, bleaches, chemicals and medicines should never be left where children can reach them. They should be tightly sealed and labelled. They should also be locked in a cupboard or trunk or put on a high shelf where children cannot see or reach them.
  • Medicines meant for adults can kill or injure small children. Medicine should only be given to a child if it is prescribed for that child. It should never be given to a child if it is prescribed for an adult or some other child. A child should never take medication on his or her own. The parent or other caregiver should give the medication to the child each time it is needed. Medication should be stored out of reach and sight of children.
  • Child-resistant closures, where available, should be used on containers storing poisonous substances.

For first aid advice on poisoning, refer to the end of this chapter.

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