Stay vigilant about poisoning prevention these holidays

25 March 2016

If you’re heading off on a family getaway these school holidays, remember to take your usual poisoning prevention measures with you.

That’s the message from the Queensland Poisons Information Centre, as it prepares for the annual increase in calls to its hotline that comes with every school holiday period.

Queensland Poisons Information Centre manager Carol Wylie said the changes to normal family routines caused by holidays often increased the risk of poisonings in children.

“If you’re staying in rented accommodation or with family and friends that don’t have young children, for example, always check for household chemicals stored in spaces where infants and toddlers can access them,” Ms Wylie said. ‘In particular, check for cleaning and dishwasher products under sinks.”

“Also check that there are no medicines stored in cupboards/drawers in the bathroom where your child might be able to find them.”

Parents should also take the time to check for remote-control devices (such as those for TVs and air-conditioning units) which can contain batteries that children may find and swallow.

“Always check that the battery compartment is secured safely and cannot be opened by your child. If not, store them out of reach.”

Ms Wylie warned it was also important to transport any medications safely while travelling.

“Many poisonings occur in cars when children find loose tablets or a strip of tablets (such as paracetamol or Ibuprofen) in a parent’s handbag.”

Ms Wylie said accidental overdoses of medication were also common when families were on holiday.

“With both parents around to give medication to children while on holidays, sometimes double doses are mistakenly given. You can avoid this by always communicating when a medicine is given or writing it in a notepad,” Ms Wylie said.

Even families who are not going away for the holidays must remain vigilant, with almost all childhood poisonings taking place in the family home.

Children under five years old are at the greatest risk, with poisoning one of the top three reasons children in this age group are seen at emergency departments or hospitalised.

“Prevention really is the key to keeping little people safe from poisoning,” Ms Wylie said.

Any parent or carer who thinks their child may have been poisoned should call the Queensland Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 immediately, rather than wait for symptoms to occur.

If a child has collapsed or is not breathing, call 000 immediately for an ambulance.

“All calls to the Queensland Poisons Information Centre are answered by pharmacists specially trained in toxicology and the provision of poisons information,” she said.

“Staff will provide first aid advice and can determine whether medical attention is required, as well as offer relevant poisoning prevention information.”

For more information about poisoning first aid and prevention, see


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