Poison Prevention

Unintentional Poisoning

Poisonings can result from medicines, pesticides, household cleaning products, carbon monoxide, and lead. More than four million calls are made to poison control centers every year in the United States. About half those calls are regarding children under 6 years old. Every day in the U.S., nearly 87 people die as a result of unintentional poisoning, and another 2,277 are treated in emergency departments.  Unintentional poisoning death in the US increased by 160% from 1999 to 2009. Unintentional poisoning deaths were second only to vehicle crashes as a cause of unintentional injury death for all ages in 2009. Among people 25 to 64 years old, unintentional poisoning caused more deaths than motor vehicle crashes. In 2005, poisonings led to $33.4 billion in medical and productivity costs.

What To Do If A Poisoning Occurs

  1. Remain calm.
  2. Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing.  If the victim is awake and alert, dial 800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
    • The victim’s age and weight
    • The container or bottle of the poison if available
    • The time of the poison exposure
    • The address where the poisoning occurred
  3. Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

General Tips


  • Install a carbon monoxide detector and change batteries at least every six months.
  • Post the Poison Help number (800-222-1222) by home phone and program into each cell phone.
  • Teach children to ask an adult before eating, drinking, or touching anything.
  • Keep batteries out of a children's reach.
  • Keep magnetic toys and other magnetic items away from small children.
  • Know the name of all household plants in your home and yard; remove any poisonous plants.
  • Keep all medications, household cleaning products, and pesticides away from children and pets.
Supplement information from the above tips with more specific information in the below resources.

Resources