You finish a tough day of work with a splitting headache. The search for painkillers begins. As you rifle through your bathroom drawers, you finally spot the elusive pill-box and turn its contents out onto the counter, only to find a variety of pills with different colours, shapes, and sizes.

You wonder, “is ibuprofen white or red?”

A quick internet search led you to find the right pill, but not before your child’s sticky little finger tried to pull the pills off the counter for a closer look…

Did you know that seventy-five percent of childhood poisonings involve substances that are in use at the time, or are not kept in their usual storage place[1]? Leaving medications within reach of small children, even a few seconds, can have serious consequences. More than half of all poisonings in British Columbia involve young children, with those between one and three years at highest risk[2]!

Remember, it’s not just prescriptions we have to worry about, it’s also over-the-counter medicines and those edible cannabis products you might have lying around the home.

So, before you think poisoning only happens to other people and other kids, have a word with yourself.

Here are some reminders to protect yourself, and your loved ones, from unintentional poisoning:

  • Keep dangerous products locked up, out of sight and out of reach of children.
  • Keep medicines in the original labelled containers.
  • Read the instructions on medications and consult your doctor before taking something new.
  • Check with your pharmacist to understand how your medications may interact with each other. Keep an up-to-date list of all medications and supplements you are taking.
  • Save the B.C. Poison Control Centre number (604-682-5050 & 1-800-567-8911) or post it in a visible place in your home.
  • Children often copy adults, so avoid taking medicine in front of a child. Never call medicine “candy”.
  • Avoid the use of cleaning products when children are close by.
  • Keep all cigarettes, butts and ashtrays away from children.
  • Keep cleaning solutions in their original, clearly labeled containers.
  • Ensure that visitors to your home place their purses, bags, etc. out of reach of children.
  • Learn to identify poisonous household plants. Crawling or walking children can reach plants kept on the floor. Labelling plants with their exact name is helpful if one is ingested by a child or pet.
  • Safety latches on all drawers or cabinets containing harmful products and use products that have child-resistant safety caps can give you peace of mind. Be aware that child-resistant caps are not child-proof.
  • Install Canadian-certified smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home and have gas appliances serviced regularly to prevent CO exposure.


Here are some helpful resources:

BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit – Quick Facts about Poisoning

Parachute – Poison Prevention Week

Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres

Health Canada – Is your child safe?