Health Encyclopedia

Facts About Poisons

Children are naturally inquisitive and love to explore their world. Infants tend to put everything in their mouths and toddlers grab whatever looks interesting. Adolescents may experiment with drugs and other mind-altering substances. Consider these facts about poisonings in the United States:

  • Each year, poison control centers receive more than 1.1 million calls about accidental poisonings among children ages 5 and under.

  • Calls to poison control centers peak between 4 pm and 10 pm. Dinnertime is so busy for most families that supervision may lapse. It is such a common time ot day for childhood poisonings to occur that poison center staff call this time of day the "arsenic hour."

  • Only 30% of caregivers are able to accurately measure a correct dosage of over-the-counter medications to their children.

  • More than 90% of poisonings in children occur in the home.

  • In children, approximately 60% of poisonings involve products other than medicines, such as plants, cleaning products, cosmetics, pesticides, paints, and solvents; 40% of poisonings involve medications.

The good news is that prompt treatment can prevent most serious reactions. And, of course, poison prevention is always the best cure.

Be prepared for a poisoning emergency by posting the poison center telephone number by every phone in your home.

The national, toll-free poison control center locator number is 800-222-1222. From here, you will be automatically redirected to the nearest Poison Center in your area.

If you have a poisoning emergency, call your local poison center immediately.
If the child has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911, or your local emergency medical services (EMS).



Medical Reviewers:

  • MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
  • Trevino, Healther, M., BSN, RNC