Medicines that can poison children

Medicines that can poison children

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How to avoid child poisoning from medicines

Poisoning often happens when medicine is left within reach.

The best way to avoid poisoning from medicines is to never leave medicines where children can get them. And it's essential to lock medicines away in a child-resistant cupboard when you're not using them.

If you think a child in your care has been poisoned, stay calm. Gather what's left of the substance the child swallowed, take it or its packaging and the child to the phone, and immediately call the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Australia wide). Don't treat the poisoning until you've got correct advice from the Poisons Information Centre.

Safety precautions for medicines

These safety precautions can help you keep your child safe from poisoning from medicines:

  • Leave all medicines in their original containers.
  • If your child needs to take medicine, read the label, dosage and instructions carefully. Double-check everything before you give your child the medicine. Set up a 'checking system' with your partner to avoid giving your child double doses of medicine. If you're not sure about how much medicine to give or for how long, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Avoid distractions when giving your child medicines. If possible, have a normal routine for giving or taking medicines. And always supervise your child while she's taking medicine.
  • Ask your pharmacist to put child-resistant caps on your medicines if they're not already on the bottle. This makes it harder for children to open bottles. Make sure you always put the caps back on the bottles immediately and correctly after use.
  • Clean out your medicine cupboard regularly. Get rid of unwanted and out-of-date medicines. You can also return unwanted medicines to your local pharmacist for safe disposal.
  • Rinse empty medicine containers with water before you throw them out.
  • Refer to medicines by their proper names, rather than calling them 'special lollies'.
  • Keep visitors' bags away from your child's reach, because bags can contain medicine.

It's also important to take care when visiting older people. They might not be used to having children around and might leave medicine within easy reach. Check to make sure your child can't get to their medicines.

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 like eucalyptus and tea tree oil
  • iron tablets
  • gout and arthritis medications
  • cold and flu medications.