The main cause of children's deaths from poisoning is vitamin pills with iron. A child can die after swallowing as few as five vitamin pills with iron.

There are a few simple things you can do to prevent your child from drinking or swallowing a poison:

  • Keep all medicines (including aspirin, herbals and vitamins) high on a closet shelf or locked in a cabinet.
  • Never put your medicines in other containers. Keep the childproof caps on tight at all times.
  • Keep all medicines that need to be refrigerated on the top shelf in the back.
  • Keep all household cleaning products locked in a cabinet or out of reach.
  • Keep all paint thinners, lawn products and fertilizers, gasoline or insect poisons away from your child. Keep them in a locked area or on a top shelf in a garage or shed.
  • Keep all deodorants, perfumes, colognes, mouthwashes, make-up or other personal items that contain alcohol in a locked medicine cabinet or on a high shelf in a closet.
  • Keep alcoholic beverages high on a shelf or locked in a cabinet.
  • Keep plants that have poisonous leaves out of reach of your child.
  • When you replace or throw away an outdated or used container, make sure the old one is wrapped securely in the garbage. Teach your child to stay away from the garbage.
  • Make sure to fully close any container that has a prescription or over-the-counter medicine or cleaning product. "Child-resistant" does not mean "child-proof." Your young child could open poison-prevention packages. Keeping them properly closed and stored may help prevent an accident.
  • Keep all medicines, perfumes, poisons, detergents and other harmful products out of reach of your baby or toddler. Put Mr. Yuk® stickers on all cleaning products and poisons. Teach your child that Mr. Yuk® means "no." (To get stickers, call your poison control center.)
  • Make sure visitors to your house keep any medicine out of reach of your child.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near the bedrooms in your home. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that can cause death. A furnace that is not working well can release carbon monoxide.
  • Teach your child the dangers of poisons.
  • Keep kitty litter or other pet products out of your child's reach.
  • Never put medicines, poisons, cleaners or other dangerous household materials in different containers.
  • Never tell your child that her medicine tastes like candy or tastes yummy. Your child will think all medicine is like candy.
  • If you take vitamins, prescription medicines or over-the-counter medicines, do not take them in front of your child. If you do, make sure to secure the bottles out of her reach. Your child may want to take a pill - just like you.

For more information, go to the Minnesota Poison Control System at mnpoison.org.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or "she" and "him" or "her."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016


According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), poisons can be:

  • medicines
  • cleaning products (such as drain or oven cleaners, detergents, furniture polish and soaps)
  • house plants
  • art supplies
  • alcohol or any product that contains alcohol (such as mouthwash)
  • automotive supplies (such as antifreeze, windshield washing fluid and gasoline)
  • household products (such as paint thinners and kerosene)

The American Association of Poison Control Centers does not recommend that you keep syrup of ipecac in your home. It is safe to flush down the toilet.

Call 1-800-222-1222 right away if you think your child swallowed poison.