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What is a poison?

A poison is something that makes you sick or hurts you if you eat, drink, touch or smell it.

  • Poisons can be SOLID.  Solid poisons can be chunky and chewy like pills, batteries, plants and berries.
  • Poisons can be LIQUID.  Liquid poisons can be creamy, blobby, or like water.  They can be any color.  Examples of liquid poisons include floor cleaners, antifreeze, cough syrup (if taken in excess) and lamp oil.
  • Poisons can be SPRAYS.  They can be in a spray can or bottle.  The spray can get in your eyes or in your lungs if you breathe it.  Examples of spray poisons are furniture polish, hair spray, air freshener and bug spray
  • Poisons can be INVISIBLE.  You can't see, smell or touch it.  Invisible poisons can be found almost anywhere.  It can be mixed in with smoke or can come out of the exhaust system of a motor vehicle or bus when the engine is running.

What does a poison look like?

  • A poison can come in pretty colors.  
  • It can come in any shape and size.  
  • It can smell good--or bad.  
  • It can also appear to taste good.  
  • A poison can even look like something good to eat or drink.

How can you get poisoned?

  • You can get poisoned by eating, drinking, touching, smelling or inhaling something that can make you sick or hurt you.  
  • Some things like medicine, can make you sick if you take the wrong kind or if you take too much.  
  • For children, always ask a grown up before taking medicine.  
  • For adults, make sure that the medicine you'll be taking is correct and also that the dosage is correct.

Where are poisons found?

  • Poisons are everywhere.  
  • They can be found in your garage, in your kitchen, in your bathroom, or in any room in your home.  
  • They can even be found in Grandma's purse!  Poisons can be found outside, like some plants, berries and mushrooms.

What can you do if someone gets poisoned?

  • From a child's perspective:  If you think you got into a poison, tell a grown-up right away!  They will call the Poison Center.  The Poison Center will tell them how to help you.  If you think your Mom or Dad, or your brother or sister, or even your friend got into a poison, you can call the Poison Center too.  Tell a grown-up to make sure you have the number of the Poison Center on or near the telephone in your house.  Ask them to show you where to find the number.  You could also call 9-1-1 or the emergency number in your area for help.

How can you stay safe from poison?

  • If you don't know what something is, leave it alone!
  • Put Mr. Yuk stickers on your medicines & poisons to help teach and keep children from touching them. 
  • Never take medicine if it's not prescribed for you.
  • Never take medicine if not directed to do so by your doctor or other health professional.
  • Some plants and berries are poisonous.  Never eat berries or plants unless you are sure they are are not poisonous.
  • Always let grown-ups use spray cans and bottles--children shouldn't touch or play with them.
  • Put away chemicals and such that are not needed--especially those for cleaning your house, car or clothes.
  • Keep all medicines, poisons and household chemicals away from children and food.  Never leave them on a bedside table, kitchen table or bathroom counter.  If possible, lock them up!
  • Never store poison in food or beverage containers.  Children could mistake it for a treat.
  • Do not use syrup of ipecac unless someone at the Poison Control center tells you to do that.
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Last modified: 12-Jul-2007