Poisons hotline 13 11 26

Poisoning prevention

Keep the telephone number for the Poisons 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
  • Order a Poisons Information Sticker to stick on your phone and personal telephone book.
  • Install child resistant mechanisms on all doors where poisons or medicines are stored. This will help keep them “out of reach of children”.
  • Store medicines and poisons out of reach and out of sight of children – in a high, locked or child resistant cupboard is best.
  • Try to buy poisons in child resistant packaging.
  • Unpack shopping bags immediately and put all medicines and poisons out of sight and reach of children.
  • 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.
  • Pets get poisoned too. Ensure pets are kept away from poisons.
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 and clear all rubbish in areas where children will be playing. Encourage children to wear appropriate shoes to avoid bites and stings.

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

Always keep the nametags 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.

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 quantity of leaves or berries can cause a poisoning.

Inspect your yard for mushrooms (sometimes called toadstools), especially after rain. Pick and dispose of them into the garbage before children are allowed outside. There are no effective chemical control agents to prevent mushrooms from growing after 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.

Visit the Plants and mushrooms poisonous to people in Queensland. This section of the website will help identify plants that shouldn’t be grown (or at least kept behind a fence) if children or toddlers are going to play in that location.

  • Don’t take medications in front of children.
  • Don’t call medicines lollies.
  • Don’t store medicines in the fridge door. Keep medicines that require refrigeration in a locked container (eg. JUNO ChildSafe) at the back of the fridge.
  • Visitors bags may contain medicines. Have a lockable cupboard or a safe spot up high where these can be kept.
  • 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.
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 a washing machine or refrigerator.

Liquid or powdered ant killers are made with honey and other sweetening agents and are very attractive to children and animals. Place them in a position 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. Contact your local council for advice on how to dispose of poisons.

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 can have access to it.

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

Do not allow children to have access to toilet rim blocks or liquid.

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

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.

Keep ashtrays and cigarette packets out of sight and reach of children. Do not leave cigarette butts on the ground.

Matches can cause illness if swallowed. Keep matches out of sight and reach of children.

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

Avoid bringing industrial strength chemicals into the home. Never take children into areas where industrial strength chemicals are in use.

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.

Poisoning in children

Poisoning first aid and prevention including information on storage, signs and symptoms of poisoning and what to do if you think someone has been poisoned.