By Raising Children Network
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Medicines are the most common cause of poisoning in young children. Most medicines can harm children if taken in large enough quantities, and some can even kill. The best way to protect your child is to store medicines out of reach and out of sight in a cabinet or cupboard with a child-resistant lock.

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Kids aged four and under are most at risk of accidentally poisoning themselves with medicine.


Safety precautions for medicines

Poisoning often occurs when medicine is left within reach. All family members must avoid making medicines accessible to children, keeping them locked away when not in use.

Visitors’ bags can also contain medicines, so keep bags away from your child’s reach.

It’s also important to take care when visiting older people, because they might not be used to having children around. Check to make sure your child can’t get to their medicines.

If a child in your care might have been poisoned, stay calm. Gather what’s left of what the child swallowed, take the medicine and the child to the phone, and immediately call the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 (24 hours a day, seven days a week, Australia-wide). Don’t treat the poisoning until you’ve got correct advice from the Poisons Information Centre.

Dangerous medicines

All these medicines can harm and even kill your child:

  • morphine and other strong painkillers
  • paracetamol
  • antihistamines
  • anticonvulsants
  • antidepressants
  • heart and blood-pressure medication
  • nicotine patches and other quit-smoking treatments
  • sleeping tablets
  • diabetes medications
  • essential oils, such as eucalyptus and tea tree oil
  • iron tablets
  • gout and arthritis medications
  • antibiotics
  • cold and flu medications.
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  • Last Updated 29-12-2010
  • Last Reviewed 31-05-2010
  • Ashby, K., & Routley, V. (1996). Childhood domestic chemical and plant poisonings. Hazard, 28, 1-16.

    Routley, V., Ozanne-Smith, J., & Ashby, K. (1996). Poisonings in early childhood. Hazard, 27, 1-16.

    Victorian Injury Surveillance System (1989). Drug safety and poison control. Hazard, 4, 1-9.