Babysitting: Dealing With a Poisoning

Babysitting: Dealing With a Poisoning

Most kids who get poisoned ate or drank household cleaning products or medicines, often in their own home. So it's good for babysitters to know how poisonings happen and what to do.

In many cases, a poison emergency can be handled by following advice from the Poison Control Center (the toll-free hotline number is 1-800-222-1222).

Possible signs that a child drank or ate something poisonous:

If you think a child has taken a medication or a poison, call the Poison Control Center. In the United States, the toll-free number is 1-800-222-1222.

Before calling the hotline, get the bottle or box of whatever the child has swallowed. If you do not have the container, tell the hotline or emergency medical personnel — as best you can — what the child has swallowed. Don't try to get the child to throw up — it can make things worse.

The Poison Control Center will ask about the type of poison or medication you suspect the child took, an estimate of how much, and a few details about how the child is doing. The poison control expert will then let you know if you should call 911 or go to the emergency room, if you should go to the doctor's office, or if you can watch the child at home.

After you call the Poison Control Center, contact the parents to let them know what's going on. If the child needs to go to the emergency room, take whatever the child swallowed along with you.

If the child becomes unconscious or it's hard to keep the child awake, call 911 right away and then contact the parents.

Here are some ways you can help prevent poisonings:

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: May 2013

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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Related Resources
Web SitePoison Control Centers Use this toll-free number to reach any of the United States' 65 local poison control centers - (800) 222-1222 - or visit the website to find the poison control center nearest you.
Web SiteAmerican Red Cross Babysitter's Training Course Designed for 11- to 15-year-olds, the babysitter's training course can help you care for children and infants, make good decisions, solve problems, be a good leader, and more.
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