Every day in this country over a thousand children swallow poisonous material and, of these, at least one dies. Most of these accidents involve children less than 5 years old, and occur in their own homes. This is a tragedy because most of these events could be prevented:

  • Insist on child proof caps for all your prescription drugs and USE THEM.
  • Keep all medicines, household cleaners, paints and other chemicals well secured – this means out of both reach and sight at least, and preferably under lock & key.
  • Be particularly vigilant when using or working with such materials. We always hear “I just left it there for a minute!”
  • Never refer to medication as “juice” or “candy”.
  • Do NOT rely on cabinet latches that bill themselves as “child proof” – they are not.


If your child has swallowed a poison:

  1. If your child is unconscious, disoriented, lethargic, OR is having any difficulty breathing, IMMEDIATELY call 9-1-1 for an ambulance. After stabilization at a local hospital, you should insist that your child be transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital or MGHfc where we can become involved.
  2. Quickly determine as best possible WHAT you think was taken, approximately WHEN this occurred, and HOW MUCH
  3. If the child is awake, alert, and breathing normally, IMMEDIATELY call the Poison Control Hotline, 1-800-222-1222 (you should do this before contacting one of us).
  4. DO NOT try to induce vomiting by any means. Syrup of Ipecac for this purpose is no longer recommended. If you have this at home you should dispose of it.
  5. If told by Poison Control to seek medical attention, but your child does not meet the above criteria for calling an ambulance, call our office. If it is after hours, page the provider on call. DO NOT go to a local ER.