Poisoning in children

Immediate action required: Phone 01 809 2166 if:

  • you think your child has been poisoned

The Poisons Information Line is open from 8am to 10pm every day.

Outside of these hours, contact your GP or hospital. In an emergency, call 112 or 999.

Poisoning is when someone is exposed to a substance that can harm their health or end their life.

Poisons can be:

  • swallowed
  • inhaled
  • injected
  • absorbed through the skin or eyes

Poisoning risks to your child

If your child has eaten poison

Do

  • Phone 01 809 2166 (Poisons Information Line), contact your GP or call 112 or 999 in an emergency.

  • Take the poison away.

  • Make them spit it out.

  • Run your fingers around their mouth. Flick out any remaining pieces.

  • Keep the container, if there is one. Your GP will need to see it.

Don't

  • Do not make your child vomit.

  • Do not give your child anything to eat or drink unless healthcare staff tell you to do so. This includes salt water.

If a poison has splashed into their eyes

Wash your child's eyes out out immediately. Continue washing for at least 15 minutes.

Do not put anything onto the eye other than water.

Immediate action required: Phone 01 809 2166 (Poisons Information Line) if:

  • you think your child has been poisoned

The Poisons Information Line is available from 8am to 10pm every day.

Outside of these hours, contact your GP or hospital. In an emergency, call 112 or 999.

If a poison has splashed onto their skin

Remove any contaminated clothing. Make sure you do not come into contact with the poison.

Wash the skin thoroughly with running tap water and soap for at least 15 minutes. Make sure the water drains away from your child and you.

Do not put anything on the exposed skin other than water.

Immediate action required: Phone 01 809 2166 (Poisons Information Line) if:

  • you think your child has been poisoned

The Poisons Information Line is available from 8am to 10pm every day.

Outside of these hours, contact your GP or hospital. In an emergency, call 112 or 999.

If a poison has been inhaled

Do not put yourself in danger. Do not enter a contaminated area without proper protective equipment (PPE).

  1. Move your child to fresh air as soon as possible.
  2. Make sure your child's airway is clear.
  3. Phone 112 or 999 in an emergency.
  4. Start CPR (mouth-to-mouth) if your child is not breathing.

If your child swallows a button cell battery

Immediate action required: Go to nearest emergency department (ED) that admits children if:

  • you think your child has swallowed a button battery

Give 2 teaspoons of honey to children over 12 months of age provided they are able to swallow, if you have it.

Do not delay going to hospital.

Button cell batteries can cause severe injuries if swallowed, including burns to the throat, stomach or intestines. They have even caused death.

Other dangers from swallowing button batteries include internal bleeding.

Button batteries can also cause choking.

A button battery
A button battery can poison and choke your child
If your child swallows a jewellery ring

Jewellery rings are not toxic. But they can cause internal injury if they:

  • get stuck in the throat or gut
  • have sharp edges

Take your child to the nearest emergency department (ED) if your child swallows a ring.

Bring the poison with you to hospital

If your child needs to go to hospital, try to bring the poison with you.

This could be:

  • the container that the poison was in
  • a sample of the plant involved in a poisoning incident, for example a branch with leaves, berries and flowers
  • the mushroom that was eaten or any remaining parts

More information

Advice on preventing accidental poisoning - poisons.ie

Page last reviewed: 22 October 2022
Next review due: 22 October 2022