Caring for children is a great job, and keeping children safe is a serious and important part of babysitting. In fact, poisoning is one of the most common childhood injuries.

Poison Prevention Tips for Babysitters

Why do babysitters or child care providers need to know about poison?

Caring for children is a great job, and keeping children safe is a serious and important part of babysitting.

Poisoning is one of the most common childhood injuries.

Most of the time poisoning happens right at home. Children who are between the ages of eight months and six years old are the most likely to be poisoned.

Poisons can look like things that are good to eat and drink. They can come in many colors and forms including solids, liquids, sprays or gases. Young children are curious. They like to put things in their mouth, especially if they look colorful or smell nice. It's a good idea to have emergency information handy when you're babysitting. Make sure you have the parents' contact information and also the number for your poison control center: 1 (800) 222-1222.

What are some common poisons?

Poisonous products that may be found in and around the home:

  • medicines
  • vitamins and iron pills
  • cleaning products
  • eye drops
  • laundry products
  • nail polish products and other cosmetics
  • batteries
  • bug and weed killers
  • cigarettes
  • alcohol
  • mouthwash
  • plants (indoor and outdoor
  • lighter fluids

How can children be kept safe from poison?

Follow 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, not even for just a minute!
  • All medicines and household cleaning products should be stored in locked cabinets, out of the reach and sight of children. Do not leave poisons on a counter or in an unlocked cabinet.
  •  If you carry something that can be poisonous, such as a medicine or cosmetics in a purse, make sure to put your purse somewhere up high and out of sight and reach of the children.
  • Safety latches on drawers or cabinets, and child resistant caps on bottles, are helpful in keeping poisons out of the hands of children. But remember, they are not “child-proof” and do not substitute for your careful and constant supervision. A curious and determined child can find a way to get into something.

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 out. 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 exactly as the parents instructed. After using the medicine, make sure the cap is on tight and return the bottle to a safe storage place right away. Never leave a child alone with the medicine.

What information about each child should you have?

Before parents leave you in charge of a child, make sure they write down some basic information such as:

  • each child’s age and weight
  • any allergies or medical conditions
  • their doctor’s name and telephone number
  • how the parents can be reached in an emergency
Get Help

If you think a child in your care has been poisoned, don’t panic!  Most poisonings can be taken care of at home with the help of the poison center experts.  Call 1-800-222-1222 right away. Do not wait for the child to look or feel sick. Poison centers take all kinds of calls, even calls that aren’t emergencies.

The poison center experts will tell you what to do to help the child They will probably ask you for:

  • The child’s age and weight
  • The information on the container, or a description of what the child came in contact with
  • The child’s symptoms.

Make sure you know the poison center’s telephone number. Keep a card or sticker with the poison center’s telephone number, carry it with you on your babysitting jobs and save the number in your cell phone.

For more poison prevention and first aid information call 1-800-222-1222.

Find Your Local Poison Center

Poison centers offer free, private, confidential medical advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach your local poison center by calling 1-800-222-1222.

View all Poison Control Centers