Safety Tips

By following these safety tips, you may be able to prevent a poisoning from happening in your family:

The Short List

  • Store products in their original containers, making sure bottles are labeled—never store poisons in a food or beverage container.
  • Never store food products with non-food items.
  • Use child-resistant containers whenever possible and be sure they are closed properly.
  • Discard expired medicine properly. Visit the Unwanted Medicine Return Program—Take it Back Network for a list of places that will take your household medications.
  • Wear your glasses and keep the lights on when taking medicine.
  • Never call medicine candy—children should understand the difference.
  • Put color dots on medication bottles—assign each family member their own color.
  • Teach children to always ask an adult before eating, drinking, or touching anything.
  • Read the label and follow directions for medicines and cleaning products.
  • Use cabinet safety locks.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in sleeping areas.
  • Post the Washington Poison Center telephone number 1-800-222-1222 on all telephones in your home.

The Long List

Store Poisons Safely

  • Store medicines and household products carefully where children cannot see or reach them.
  • Store poisons in their original containers.
  • Use child-resistant packaging. Remember, nothing is child-proof!
  • Store your medication and your pet’s medication in different locations.
  • Never mix more than one medication in a bottle.
  • Put color dots on medication bottles—assign each family member their own color.
  • Clean out old medicines regularly and dispose.
  • Put Mr. Yuk stickers on poisonous products in your home.

Use Poisons Safely

  • Read the label: follow directions and note cautions on medicines and products.
  • Are children around? Take the product or medicine with you when you answer the door or the phone.
  • Lock up products and medicines after using them.
  • Is it medicine? Call it medicine, not candy.

Children Learn By Imitation

  • Take your medicines where children can’t watch.
  • Is your pet on medications? Get your medication and your pet’s medication out at different times.
  • Avoid bringing unnecessary poisonous substances into your home.
  • Rinse out containers thoroughly before disposing of them.
  • Do not mix chemicals or cleaners.
  • Read and follow precautions on the label regarding ventilation and personal protection such as gloves, eye protection, and masks.
  • Do not take or share prescription medications. Medication names may sound similar yet be very different.

Children Are Curious

  • Poisons can look like food or drinks. Teach children to ask an adult before eating or drinking anything.
  • Daily pill reminders (pill boxes) may look like a game to a toddler. Most of these containers do not have child resistant features.
  • Visitor’s suitcases are new treasures to a toddler. Medications and personal care products need to be kept out of reach. Give your visitors a lock-box to store such items.
  • Fruit scented and labeled air fresheners, cosmetics, and cleaning products look and smell like food to a child.
  • Medication stored in a mint tin in a purse or pocket can easily be mistaken for candy by a child.
  • Any liquid stored in a juice or pop container could be assumed to be safe to drink. Avoid storing cleaning chemicals, paints, or gasoline in a beverage container.
  • For children who are curious climbers, putting medications on a high shelf simply increases the challenge. Medications can be stored in a plastic box with a combination lock.
  • When a child finds a baggie with pills, it can look just like a baggie full of snacks.

Take Special Care When Out of the Ordinary

Even if you have taken special care to make your home safe, a child or pet can take advantage of special times when your attention might be diverted. These, and other occasions, are times when usual safeguards may break down and provide opportunities for children or pets to get into items they would not normally have access to:

  • Home repair or renovation
  • Parties or family gatherings
  • When the family is moving
  • When the family is traveling or having guests
  • When family members are ill

Got Questions?

Call the Washington Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 and ask! It does not have to be an emergency to call. Be sure to ask for Mr. Yuk stickers!