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Safety checklist: poisons and medicines

Child Safety Foundation of New Zealand

A poison is any substance that can cause harmful effects to the body when swallowed or inhaled. Poisons come mostly in solid or liquid forms but can also be a spray or gas. Some of the most common and dangerous poisons are:

  • medicines & drugs,
  • household products & cleaners,
  • personal care products,
  • plants, and
  • environmental poisons

Poison safety checklist

  • Store cleaning products out of the reach of children
  • Use child proof locks
  • Store cleaners in original containers
  • Never leave a child alone around cleaning products
  • Throw away empty containers
  • Buy powdered products rather than liquids
  • Buy products with child resistant caps
  • Check your home for flaky paint
  • Don’t store shampoo on bottom of shower stalls
  • Keep laundry and bathroom doors closed
  • Keep rat and ant bait in locked cupboards

First Aid

  • Don’t give child any liquids
  • Don’t try and make your child vomit
  • Find out what they swallowed
  • For urgent information call 0800 764 766 (0800 Poison) or 111
  • For non urgent information call the National Poison Centre (03) 479-7248
  • If corrosive ie. burning around the mouth, take child to hospital immediately or call 111.


  • Never call pills lollies
  • Buy containers with child resistant caps
  • Keep medicines out of reach
  • Use child resistant locks on cupboards that store medicines
  • Take your medicines when children are not watching
  • Dispose of left over or expired medicines
  • Never leave medicines on bedside tables
  • Watch your child when visiting other homes
  • Learn first aid
  • Ensure your bathroom is safe
  • Ensure handbags are out of reach of children
  • Take extra care when containers enable children to see the medication

This checklist has been kindly provided by the New Zealand Child Safety Foundation , one of New Zealand’s least known but most valuable charitable foundations. Established in 1985 as the New Zealand Safe Playing Trust to teach safety to pre-school and early primary school pupils, the Child Safety Foundation NZ was renamed in 1993. The Foundation is not funded by the Government and derives it’s funding from donations and fundraising. The foundation, through the generosity of its sponsors and other limited funding does manage to provide worthwhile services to support young families.