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Clinics & services

Victorian Poisons Information Centre

Preventing poisoning

Follow our tips to prevent poisonings in the home and in the workplace.

At home

Be aware

More poisonings occur when:

  • Medicines, chemicals and household products are not in their usual storage location, when they are in use and left on a bench top or bedside table, or during transport from the shop to home
  • Usual household routines are disrupted, eg moving house, being on holiday, having visitors

Safe storage

  • Store medicines, chemicals and household products safely out of reach and out of sight of children, up high (at least 1.5 metres) in a locked or child-resistant cupboard
  • Separate medicines from chemicals and household products
  • Do not store medicines in the refrigerator unless advised to do so by your pharmacist
  • Visitors’ bags may contain medicines. Keep them well out of reach of children.

Safe containers

  • Do not transfer medicines, chemicals or household products from their original containers. Keep everything in their original, labelled containers, NEVER in cups or soft drink bottles.
  • Ask for and use medicines, chemicals and household products that are in child-resistant packaging (blister or strip packs or special ‘push and turn’ lids). However, remember that child-resistant packaging is not child-proof.

Safe labels

  • Be sure that all medicines, chemicals and household products are properly labelled
  • Read the label carefully before use

Safe use

  • Use medicines, chemicals and household products safely. Read directions for use carefully. Do not leave them unattended while in use.
  • Always take medicines in a well lit room. Wear your glasses if you need to. Follow the directions for use carefully and accurately.
  • Children tend to imitate adults, so avoid taking medicines in their presence
  • Refer to medicines by their proper names. They are not lollies.
  • Do not take other people’s medicines
  • Avoid distractions when administering medicines; double check before taking them. If you can, establish a 'normal routine' for taking your medicines.
  • Parents should establish a 'checking system' with each other to avoid giving double doses of medicine to your children
  • Use appropriate protection when painting, spraying chemicals or cleaning the oven. Follow the directions for use. Protect skin and eyes. Ensure there is adequate ventilation, with air circulating continuously. If there is a spill, remove any contaminated clothing immediately.

Safe disposal

  • Empty containers of liquid medications, chemicals and household products should be rinsed with water before they are thrown out
  • Clean out your medicine cupboard regularly. Take unwanted and out-of-date medicines to your nearest pharmacy for disposal.
  • Dispose of unwanted chemicals safely. Contact Sustainability Victoria (1800 353 233) or visit the website and enter 'chemical disposal' into the keyword search for dumping times and places around Victoria.

At work

  • Keep up-to-date Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all chemicals that are handled
  • Do not keep chemicals in unlabelled containers
  • Do not eat or drink near chemicals or where they are being used
  • Ring the Occupational Health and Safety advice line (03 9641 1555) for information about safe handling of chemicals and safe work practices
  • Follow recommendations for safe handling and use of protective gear when using chemicals. Follow the directions for use. Protect skin and eyes. Ensure there is adequate ventilation, with air circulating continuously.