A recent study published by Public Health England revealed the shocking numbers of young children being rushed to hospital following an accidental poisoning.  During the period 2012/13 – 2016/17 nearly 26,000 under 5’s attended A&E in England alone.  This represents a disappointing increase of 10% on figures from the previous five years.  We believe this trend can be reversed and are therefore dedicating our June safety campaign to this end.

Every home will contain a range of everyday items that are poisonous and when you consider that young children learn by putting items in their mouths it’s perhaps unsurprising that tragedies do occur.  Fortunately despite the high number of poisoning incidents prompt medical attention has meant the number of children dying following a poisoning remain relatively low.  However, the six deaths that occurred over the last five years are still six too many.


Medicines that could look like colourful sweets to your little ones!


Amazingly a substance that is intended to make us better accounts for a staggering 69% of all poisonings identified in the PHE study.  This includes both parents/carers exceeding the recommended dosage of their child’s medicine and children getting hold of medicine, such as headache tablets, themselves.  Always follow the instructions when administering medicine and keep track of how much the child has had.


Medicines can look like sweets to a child so if you’re taking your own medication do this out of sight and always keep medicines where your child can neither see nor reach them, a locked cabinet is best.  Many medicines will be sold in child resistant packaging but remember, child resistant does not mean child proof!


Household Products

Bleaches and cleaning chemical can obviously be harmful to you child, it’s why you’ll find these sorts of images on the packaging:

If your child drinks one of these liquids or even just inhales the fumes from its usage the results can be terrible. Always follow usage instructions and keep the products out of the sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard.  Of particular concern are “liqui-tabs” for washing machines or dishwashers as they are often colourful and can look like sweets make sure these are kept safely away from your little ones.

Carbon monoxide is a gas given off whenever fuel is burned.  It can be released when home appliances such as boilers or gas fires malfunction or even just by an open fire, stove or BBQ.  You can’t see, smell or taste it but if carbon monoxide is inhaled it can kill a child in seconds.  Make sure you fit a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near bedrooms and ensure they are maintained and replaced as necessary.

It’s not always obvious what can be poisonous to children.  For example the leaves or berries of some plants can be deadly.  Take time to assess your home and garden, identify what has the potential to poison and take action to prevent it happening to your child.

Button Batteries


Button batteries are found in many innocuous looking electronic devices such as TV remotes, key fobs, musical cards or calculators.  If swallowed by a small child they can get stuck in their throat causing severe burns or even death.  We conducted our own test using a piece of ham to replicate a child’s throat and in just a few minutes the button battery left this burn (pictured). 

Be aware of the items in your house that contain button batteries and ensure your child cannot get hold of them, particularly if the battery compartment isn’t secure.  If you keep spare batteries lock them away and always dispose of used batteries carefully. 





E-liquids are a relatively recent invention and another that can poison your child if ingested.  They should be sold in child resistant packaging but, as always, its best to keep them out of sight and reach of children.  Particularly as some less responsible manufacturers have used child appealing packaging in the past:


Most E-Liquids contain nicotine, a highly toxic substance, through ingestion, inhalation and even just contact with the skin.  Less than 2mls can be fatal for an adult and it is likely that a lethal dose for a child would be even smaller.


Key Point Reminder

  •  Keep medicines, chemicals and any other poisonous substances out of your child’s sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Wherever possible buy products in child resistant packaging, use them in accordance with their instructions and keep them in their original container.
  • Dispose of unwanted medicines, chemicals and their used packaging safely.
  • It can be surprising what household items are capable of poisoning a child, maybe something as innocuous as a household plant or the batteries in a remote control.
  • Closely supervise children in and around the home and never leave poisonous products unattended whilst in use.
  • For more advice on poisoning see our dedicated poisoning section here .  And remember: