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Poison Control Center
Happy family in a park.

What Babysitters Need to Know About Poisoning

Children act fast – so do poisons!

Keeping children safe is a serious and important part of babysitting.

Poisoning is one of the most common childhood injuries. Most calls to poison control centers involve children under the age of 6.

As a babysitter, you need to know what poisons are and how to keep children away from them.

Common poisons

Many everyday household products are poisonous. When you babysit, make sure these items are locked up and out of children’s reach:

  • Batteries
  • Bug and weed killers
  • Cigarettes
  • Cleaning agents
  • Nail glue, remover and primer Iron pills (dietary supplement)
  • Laundry products (soap, bleach)
  • Lighter fluids
  • Medicines
  • Mouthwash
  • Plants
  • Rubbing alcohol

Keep children safe

You can help keep children safe by following these safety tips:

  • Keep children where you can see them at all times, even when you go to answer the door or telephone. Never leave young children alone, even for just a minute!
  • All medicines and cleaning products should be stored in locked cabinets, out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Never carry something that can be poisonous, such as a medicine, in a purse where children may find it.
  • Safety latches on drawers or cabinets and child-resistant caps on bottles help keep poisons out of the hands of children. But remember, they are not “childproof” and do not take the place of your careful and constant supervision.
  • Remember the BEFORE, WHILE and AFTER rule:
    • BEFORE using a cleaning product, read the instructions on the bottle.
    • WHILE using a cleaning product, never leave it alone. A child may find it.
    • AFTER using a product, put it back in a locked cabinet. Make sure the container is closed tightly.
  • If you are asked to give medicine to a child, follow the instructions on the bottle. After using the medicine, return the bottle to a safe storage place right away. Never leave a child alone with medicine.

Have the information you need

Before parents leave you in charge of a child, make sure they write down:

  • Their family doctor’s name and telephone number.
  • How to reach them in an emergency.
  • Each child’s age and weight.
  • Any allergies or medical conditions.

What to do if you think a child has been poisoned

If you think someone has been poisoned, call The University of Kansas Hospital Poison Control Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

Do not wait for the child to look or feel sick. The Poison Control Center will tell you what to do.

You can also call 911 or the emergency number in your city or town for help.

Make sure you know the Poison Control Center’s telephone number. Keep a card or sticker with your our telephone number, and carry it with you on your babysitting jobs. We're available 24/7! Call toll free, 1-800-222-1222.

24-hour Poison Control Center hotline: 1-800-222-1222

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