If you think your child has been poisoned, call the New Zealand National Poisons Centre immediately on 0800 POISON (0800 764 766).

National Poisons Centre

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New Zealand's only poison and hazardous chemicals information centre.

Be S.A.F.E with poisons

Store all medicines, chemicals and cleaners in their original container, and lock them in cupboards up high and out of sight

Ask your pharmacist for safety caps on medicines – there may be a small cost.

Follow the dose instructions from your doctor or pharmacist when giving medicine to children.

Ensure you read and follow safety instructions on medicines, chemicals and cleaners.

Children are good climbers

You might think you’ve safety stored dangerous things out of reach – but have you? Young children can be good climbers and often surprise their parents with what they can reach.

Reduce the risk of injury by:

  • keeping all chemicals, poisons and medicines well out of reach and sight of children, preferably locked away
  • consider safety catches or locks on cupboards
  • ensuring medications stored in the refrigerator are out of sight.

If you think your child may have eaten something poisonous, call the National Poisons Centre – 0800 764 766 (0800 POISON) right away. Don’t try to make them vomit or give food or liquid until you’ve been given advice.

If your child is unconscious or having trouble breathing, you’re worried they look very ill, or the Poisons Centre has advised you to, call 111. 

First aid for poisoning

National Poisons Centre

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New Zealand's only poison and hazardous chemicals information centre.

Keep your tamariki safe from poisons

Medicines, cleaning products and poisons can be mistaken for food or drink

Reduce the risk of injury by:

  • keeping all medicines, cleaning products and other poisons in their original containers with the label intact
  • not storing medicines, cleaners and chemicals in food containers
  • storing all chemicals and medicines away from food
  • not referring to medicines as lollies or sweets
  • not taking medicines in front of young children.

Put medicines, cleaning products and chemicals away after purchase or use

A significant number of poisonings happen when medicines and chemicals have been left out after use, or when you’ve just bought them.

Reduce the risk of injury by:

  • putting any chemicals straight back where they’re securely stored after use or when purchased
  • always replacing the lid on any chemicals or medicines immediately after use
  • turning any spray bottle nozzles to the ‘off’ position immediately after use
  • disposing of chemicals and medicines that are no longer used.

Contact your local council or the National Poisons Centre (0800 764 766) for more information. Medicines can usually be taken back to your pharmacy for safe disposal.

Child-resistant caps are not childproof

Reduce the risk of injury by:

  • keeping medications out of reach of children, even if they have child-resistant packaging
  • choosing junior strength or smaller packaging sizes - this can help reduce the chance of serious poisoning if a child was to swallow some.

Childhood poisoning often happens when a child is ill because medications are not given correctly

Reduce the risk of injury by:

  • always following dosage instructions on the package
  • paying special attention to putting medicines away after use
  • never preparing or giving medication in the dark. You could easily give the wrong medicine or wrong dose.

Children eat dishwasher powder

Children will often get into the dishwasher and eat the powder before use or after the wash cycle.

Reduce the risk of injury by:

  • making sure the dishwasher door is securely closed when not in use
  • selecting non-caustic products.

Children imitate adults

Children may decide to copy adults and help themselves to vitamins, medicines, or other chemical products.

Reduce the risk of injury by:

  • not leaving vitamin bottles, paracetamol, or other similar items on benches, tables, bedside tables or dressers
  • never leaving cosmetics and toiletries within easy reach of children. Be especially careful with perfume, hair dye, hairspray and other hair products, shoe polish, nail polish, and nail polish remover.

Dangerous plants in the garden

Many plants in the garden can have toxic effects if parts of the plant are eaten.

Reduce the risk of injury by:

  • carefully choosing plants that are grown where young children play or visit, and remove if necessary
  • encouraging children to enjoy the plants in the garden without eating them
  • clearing away berries, flowers and other plant material from pathways and lawns where children play
  • some plants have educational value but are toxic, like the swan plant. Supervision is important when children are around these plants.
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