Caring for Our Childen (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.9 Prevention and Management of Toxic Substances Use of a Poison Center

The poison center should be called for advice about any exposure to toxic substances, or any potential poisoning emergency. The national help line for the poison center is 1-800-222-1222, and specialists will link the caregiver/teacher with their local poison center. The advice should be followed and documented in the facility's files. The caregiver/teacher should be prepared for the call by having the following information for the poison center specialist:
a) The child's age and sex;
b) The substance involved;
c) The estimated amount;
d) The child's condition;
e) The time elapsed since ingestion or exposure.

The caregiver/teacher should not induce vomiting unless instructed by the poison center.
Toxic substances, when ingested, inhaled, or in contact with skin, may react immediately or slowly, with serious symptoms occuring much later (1). It is important for the caregiver/teacher to call the poison center after the exposure and not "wait and see." Symptoms vary with the type of substance involved. Some common poisoning symptoms include dermatitis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and congestion.
Any question on possible risks for exposure should be referred to poison center professionals for proper first aid and treatment. Regional poison centers have access to the latest information on emergency care of the poisoning victim.

Caregivers/teachers can go to to find their local poison center or for additional information on poisoning and poison safety. They can also access a variety of services that poison centers have: poison prevention, poison control, information about toxic substances including lead and chemicals that may be found in consumer products, and even assistance with disaster planning. Caregivers/teachers should feel comfortable calling the poison center about medication dosing errors. Poison centers provide free, confidential advice on how to handle the situation.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
Appendix P: Situations that Require Medical Attention Right Away
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. 2007. Policy statement: Poison treatment in the home. Pediatrics 119:1031.