Poisons around the home

Many household items that seem perfectly safe are actually poisonous and cause harm to children if not stored and handled with care. Take a virtual tour of the house below to discover where potential dangers lie. Clicking on each household hazard reveals tips and helpful information about how to protect your child from an accidental poisoning.

Tour a House

Hover over an object or area of the house and click on the highlighted field to see the relevant poisons information.

Industrial strength chemicals

Avoid bringing industrial strength chemicals into the home. Never take children into areas where industrial strength chemicals are in use. Store medicines and poisons out of reach and out of sight of children – a high, locked, or child resistant cupboard is best.

Rat bait pellets

Avoid using rat bait pellets. Use products encased in a plastic bait station if required. Keep out of sight and reach of children, such as under a washing machine or refrigerator, or in the ceiling. Keep cockroach bait stations out of sight and reach of children. When laying baits choose a position where they can’t be accessed by children or pets, such as under the washing machine or refrigerator.

Child resistant mechanisms

Install child resistant mechanisms on all doors where poisons or medicines are stored.
This will help keep them out of reach of children. Install child-resistant measures.


Do not allow children to have access to toilet rim, cleaning blocks, or liquids.

Vaporiser fluids

Vaporiser fluids, chest rubs, and essential oils can make children very sick if swallowed.
Their use does not have any proven benefits. Use only under doctor’s recommendation.

Taking medication

Don’t take medication in front of children. Don’t call medicine “lollies”.
Never take medicines in the dark. Always read the label and take only as directed.
Return expired medicines, or ones that are no longer needed, to your local pharmacy for disposal. Ask your pharmacist to dispense medicine in child resistant containers.

Poisons disposal

Contact your local Council for advice on how to dispose of poisons.

Read labels

Closely read the labels on poisons before you use them to ensure you have the right product for the right job. Follow the safety instructions and manufacturer’s directions for use.

Paint brushes

Don’t leave paint brushes to soak in mineral turpentine. Clean them immediately, or keep them out of sight and reach of children until you can clean them properly.

Medicines in the fridge

Don’t store medicines in the fridge door. Keep medicines that require refrigeration in a closed or locked container (e.g.: plastic containers, lockable computer disk box) at the back of the fridge.

Child resistant packaging

Try to buy poisons in child resistant packaging. Check that child resistant caps are working correctly. You may need to clean around the top of the bottle. Always tightly close and put away medicines and poisons after use. Never transfer poisons to another container, especially drink or food containers.


Keep the dishwasher door closed. Fill the detergent container only when you are ready to turn it on, preferably when children are sleeping. Use brands that dissolve well or remove any detergent left over after use before children have access to dishwashers.

Insect repellents

Liquid and powdered ant killers are made with honey and other sweetening agents and are very attractive to children and animals. Place them in positions where only the ants can reach them. Ensure snail pellets cannot be eaten by children or pets. You can buy special terracotta containers with space for the snails to enter that can be half buried in the ground. Snail pellets containing a repellent to cats and dogs are available.

Shopping bags

Unpack shopping bags immediately and put all medicines and poisons out of sight and reach of children.


Inspect your yard for mushrooms (sometimes called toadstools), especially after rain. Pick and dispose of them in the garbage before children are allowed outside. There are no effective chemical control agents to prevent mushrooms from growing after the rain. Never pick mushrooms for eating from fields or gardens. There is no easy way to identify which mushrooms or toadstools contain toxins and there have been many cases of unintentional poisoning from hand-gathered mushrooms served as part of a meal.

Plant nametags

Always keep the name tags of new plants and find out the botanical name of existing plants in your house or garden. Common names are not reliable and may not identify a plant or it’s toxicity. Consider removing any that are poisonous or ensure that children and pets cannot have access to them. Your local nursery or the Queensland Herbarium can help with identification of plants. Always supervise children’s play in the garden and teach children not to eat flowers, fruit and
berries from garden plants.

Poison Information Centre

Keep the telephone number for the Poison Information Centre (13 11 26) handy. Find the number in the White Pages and highlight it – it can be found on the inside of the front cover and also listed alphabetically. You may want to store it in the speed dial in your phone, or you may wish to order a Poison Information Sticker to stick on your phone and personal telephone book.


Pets get poisoned too. Ensure pets are kept away from poisons.

Indoor plants

Indoor plants can also cause poisoning. Avoid having indoor plants accessible to young children and be aware of indoor plants in other people’s homes when visiting with small children. While small quantities of soil, potting mix and fertiliser beads are low in toxicity, there are many plants where even a mouthful of leaves or berries can cause poisoning.

Ashtrays and cigarette packets

Keep ashtrays and cigarette packets out of sight and reach of children and pets.
Do not leave cigarette butts on the ground. Matches can cause illness if swallowed.
Keep matches out of sight and reach of children and pets.

Visitors’ bags

Visitors’ bags may contain medicines. Have a lockable cupboard or a high, safe spot where these can be kept.

Alcoholic drinks

Alcoholic drinks can be dangerous to children if swallowed. Do not give children tastes of alcoholic drinks. Store out of sight and reach of children.

Pool chemicals

Take care when using pool chemicals such as chlorine. Avoid inhaling powder or liquid or allowing it to contact the eyes. Do not use on windy days.


Supervise children while playing in rock pools at the beach. They may contain dangerous marine animals such as blue-ringed octopus or cone shells.

Inspect outdoor furniture

Inspect outdoor furniture, toys and cots for spiders, especially during warmer months (spider season). Teach children never to touch spiders, snakes, wasps, bees or ants.

Keep grass mown

Keep grass mown and clear all rubbish in areas where children will be playing. Encourage children to wear appropriate shoes to avoid bites and stings.