Kids Safety 101
baby reaching for pills on a table

Memorizing This Phone Number Could Save Your Child’s Life

1 (800) 222-1222.

That’s the number for Poison Control. If your child accidentally encounters something that might be toxic, Poison Control is your best resource. Call them or reach out using their online tool to get guidance on how you can help your child.

When to Call Poison Control

Poison Control isn’t the right choice for every situation. If your child passes out, has a seizure, or can’t breathe, call 911 immediately. Those are all emergency situations that require a trip to the hospital.

So who can get help from Poison Control? They have a list of criteria that you need to meet in order to receive the best help possible. In addition to the severe illness screening question above, Poison Control can assist you if:

  • Your child encountered a potentially toxic or hazardous “drug or medicine, household product, flower, leaf, berry, seed, bite or sting, or an inhaled gas.”
  • Only one substance was involved–e.g. just bleach or just blood pressure medication, but not a handful of pills or a cocktail of cleaners.
  • The exposure was a one-time thing, not a long-term pattern
  • The exposure was an accident, not an attempt at self-harm. Even young children can try to harm themselves intentionally; you should always go to the ER if that’s the case.
  • Your child is at least six months old.

Poison Control also reminds you to only call about your human children–sorry, but pets don’t count!

You can either call the hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or use their web-based, automated screening tool. It’s always free, and you’ll typically get help within three minutes.

What Information Do You Need to Get Help?

If your child is exposed to something that might be harmful, you need to have certain information on hand to make it easier for Poison Control to help.

First, your child’s age and weight are essential for calculating whether, for example, a single aspirin is harmful or not. You also need to know what they swallowed, touched, or inhaled.

Ideally, you’ll have the bottle or box in hand if the danger in question was a household product or medicine. The more specific you can be, the better. You also need to know how long it’s been since your child was exposed to the danger.

The Poison Control representative will use this information to determine whether you need to call an ambulance, go to urgent care, make an appointment with your doctor, or simply treat any harmful effects at home. Ideally, there’s nothing to worry about, and you’ll have peace of mind.

The representative will also ask for your zip code in case they need to refer you to a local poison center for help. They’ll also ask for your email address in order to follow up later to see if everyone is okay.

Erin Long