Preventing Unintentional Poisonings

unintentional poisonings poisoning

9 out of 10 poisonings occur within the household, most of which happen in the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. And, more than 60,000 young children end up in emergency rooms every year because they got into medicine. Poisoning is a leading cause of unintentional death so the third week in March is dedicated to raising awareness of poison prevention, highlighting the dangers and how to prevent unintentional poisonings.

Deaths from preventable poisoning numbered 87,404 in 2020, the most current data year. The death rate per 100,000 population was 26.5

What is a poison?

A poison is anything that can harm someone if it is used in the wrong way, used by the wrong person or used in the wrong amount. Some poisons hurt you when they are ingested, while others can harm you if they get in your eyes or on your skin.

household products unintentional death household young children raises awarnessWe use many products we may not think of as poisons; however, many everyday products can be poisonous.

Examples of poisons:

  • Alcohol
  • Carbon monoxide gas
  • Medicines both prescription and over-the-counter
  • Personal care products, such as hydrogen peroxide, lotion, nail polish remover
  • Household cleaners and products, such as bleach, laundry or dish detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, paint, pesticides
  • Automotive products, such as antifreeze, gasoline
  • Some plants
  • Bites and stings, such as wasp, bee, snake, spider
  • Hazardous chemicals

Is this a poison?

The most common exposures were ingestion of household products such as cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning substances, pain relievers, foreign bodies and plants.

Poison Proofing

Poison prevention unintentional poisonings dangers raises awarenessIs it time to do a little spring cleaning? Make it a point to do a little poison proofing of your home.

  • Inspect your entire home for any medicines or household products (detergents, cleaning products, pesticides, chemicals) that may not be stored properly. Always store these products high and out-of-reach of children.
  • Keep poisons in the containers they came in with their original labeling. Do not use food containers to store household cleaners, chemicals or other products and do not store them near food.
  • Read and follow the directions for a product’s proper use and disposal.
  • Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home; the best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces.
  • Know that pesticides can be taken in through the skin or inhaled. Stay away from areas that have been sprayed until the spray has dried or for at least one hour.
  • Wear protective clothing when using bug spray or other spray products. If pesticides are splashed on the skin, rinse with running water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Chemicals, such as drain openers, toilet cleaners, and oven cleaners can burn the skin.

Poison proofing your home.

When it comes to bugs and insects

  • Insect stings can cause serious problems and even death for those who are allergic to them. Go to the hospital if you have been stung and start showing signs of hives, dizziness, breathing trouble or swelling around the eyes or mouth.
  • Two common spiders that can harm you are the female black widow and the brown recluse. Within 36 hours of being bitten you may see or feel signs of poisoning – restlessness, fever, chills, nausea, weakness, rash or joint pain. Missouri is known to be home to the brown recluse.

Poison Prevention Resources

Of course, the first step if you think someone has been poisoned is to call Poison Help, 800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center.

More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the Nation’s poison control centers. On average, 90% of these poisonings happen in American homes each year, and more than 70% of people who call Poison Heal get the help they need right where they are.

However, we place our young children and elderly loved ones in the care of others. It is up to these caregivers to ensure that all toxic items be locked safely away and out of reach. When the negligence of a caregiver contributes to poisoning injuries or death, you may want to speak with a personal injury attorney to determine if you have a claim.


If you would like to receive news and blog updates on a regular basis, sign up to receive our email newsletter. Your email address will only be used to send you our newsletter and respond to inquiries.


Past results afford no guarantee of future results and each case is different and is judged on its own merits. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published March 20, 2018. It was reviewed on March 16, 2023, updated for content and accuracy and re-published on March 21, 2023.

Contact Us Today for Help!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.