Avoid household poisoning this summer

Note from HOPE: We’re proud to share this information from the Wisconsin Poison Center’s Program Coordinator and Educator Cathy Smith. For more information, find them online.

Wisconsin residents who have questions related to occupational exposures, chemicals, bites, medications and insect stings, can contact the toll-free number to receive expert advice on what to do to manage or prevent injury from an exposure. The Wisconsin Poison Center (WPC), is the only nationally accredited Poison Center designated for the state. 

Tips to prevent household poisoning in children

The WPC handles 40,000 calls annually from Wisconsin residents. Children age 5 and younger make up more than half of the total calls.  This is because children at this age are most commonly exposed to everyday items that are commonly stored at eye-level (under the kitchen or bathroom sink). These items may include: laundry detergent (pods), prescription medicine, over-the-counter drugs, plants, beauty products, pesticides, products that contain alcohol and more.

Here are some tips to avoid household poisonings and that will help to keep your child safe:


  • Store all medications, including vitamins, dietary supplements and adult medicines, out of reach and out of sight of children. It’s tempting to keep it handy, but accidents can happen fast. It only takes a few seconds for a child to get into medicine that could make them very sick.
  • Buy items with child-resistant packaging and, to avoid confusion, keep these products in the original containers.
  • Safely dispose of old medicines by participating in a local drug take back event near you.


  • Install child safety locks on cabinets containing cleaning items.
  • Read product labels to find out what can be hazardous.
  • Laundry pods contain higher concentrations of ingredients in a small packet. Take extra care to keep these out of reach of small children, as the smaller doses seem to cause more severe reactions.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless

  • Never use an oven, stovetop or outdoor grill to heat your home.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, and make sure they’re at least 15 feet from any fuel-burning appliances.
  • Make sure the exterior vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow, lint, bird nests and debris.

Accidents will happen

In the event that you face a poison emergency, there is a lot you can do. For poison in the eyes, rinse the eyes with running water. If the substance is on skin, remove any clothing that the poison touched and wash the skin. For an inhaled poison, get to fresh air right away.

In all of these situations, additional help is available to you by calling the Wisconsin Poison Center at (800) 222-1222 anytime. 

Things to avoid after an exposure: 

  • The use of home remedies
  • Trying to make someone vomit

These things may make things worse.

If a person is showing more immediate symptoms, such as a seizure, collapse or stops breathing, call 911 right away.



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