Children and poisonings - prevention tips

In all households, there are a variety of products that are poisonous or that can be harmful in other ways. Consumption of or accidents associeted with these products may lead to poisoning. Here you will find some basic tips for preventing poisonings.

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Because young children are curious, more than half of the poisoning cases reported to our centre each year involve children less than 5 years of age. A child’s age, weight, and medical history will affect the treatment of a poisoning. 

Some medicines and household cleaning products may be dangerous even in small quantities. Do not wait for clinical signs to occur before you call the Norwegian Poison Information Centre: 22 59 13 00. 

Keep the Norwegian Poison Information Centre number posted in your home or on your mobile phone. The poison experts can help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have information about the contents of a large range of products. In case of serious or life threatening symptoms, call 113 for help.

To avoid poisonings when taking care of children, be aware of the following: 

Medicines


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Children like the attractive packaging,  smells and are sometimes drawn to the colourful apperance of many medicines. Poisoning can occur at any time and in any place. Many medicines, even those sold without prescription, can cause poisoning if accidentally taken by children. 
  • Keep all medicines out of reach and sight of children. 
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage. Be extra careful when administering medicine at night time. 
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or “sweets”.
  • Remember that child-resistant packaging does not mean childproof packaging.
  • Pay attention when you have guests or are visiting relatives and friends. Keep handbags out of reach of children.

Household products


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You will find a variety of chemical substances in all households – like cleaning products, fertilizers, insecticides and antifreeze. Correct storage of these products are important in order to prevent poisonings.

Caustic products like drain cleaners and oven cleaners can cause severe damage to the esophagus and stomach when swallowed or cause serious chemical burns if they are splashed into the eyes or on the skin. Petroleum products, such as lamp oil and white spirit can cause serious damage to the lungs even when small quantities are swallowed.
  • Household cleaning products should be stored safely, out of the reach and sight of children. Dangerous products should be stored in locked cabinets.
  • Keep button batteries out of reach of children.
  • If you use nicotine products like chewing gum, snuff or e-cigarette liquid, keep the products out of children’s reach.
  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers. Never put a potentially poisonous product in a plastic soda bottle where it could be mistaken for something else. 
  • Remember that child-resistant packaging does not mean childproof packaging.
  • Do not leave poisonous products unattended on a counter while in use. Many incidents happen when adults are distracted for a moment on the phone or at the door.
  • Do not induce vomit in children unless directed by a professional.
  • Call the Norwegian Poison Information Centre (22 59 13 00) in case of accidents. The poison experts can help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week and have information about the contents of a large range of products.

Mushrooms

In the autumn wild mushrooms are abundant both in the garden and in the forest. Some of these mushrooms are dangerous to eat; a few can even cause poisoning after only a small taste.

If your child has tasted an unknown mushroom, always contact the Norwegian Poison Information Centre (22 59 13 00) without delay. We will help you identify the mushroom and give you the appropriate advice. Have the mushroom at hand when you make the call, in order to accurately describe it over the phone.

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Plants

We are surrounded by plants, both indoors and outdoors. Plants and berries are attractive to young children who like to put things in their mouth. Some of these plants are household plants, others are grown in home gardens. Some grow wild in the forest or field and some are common weeds. Many are harmless, but a few plants may cause poisoning even when ingested in small quantities. Make sure you know the name of plants that grow inside and outside your home.

Children like to pick berries, but there are edible and poisonous kinds. Do not assume that a plant is safe for people just because birds and wildlife eat it. However, with the exception of the berries from the Belladonna plant (Deadly Nightshade), it is never dangerous to eat one berry. Call the Norwegian Poison Information Centre (22 59 13 00) if you suspect a potential plant poisoning.

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Here you will find useful information about both harmless and dangerous plants in Norway (in Norwegian).