How can we reduce poisonings?
Common causes of poisoning in WA include; medications, household products (i.e. cleaning, health and beauty products), gardening products (i.e. insecticides and herbicides), paint, batteries, chemicals, paint and animals.
Fortunately, the risk of poisoning can be reduced by:
- Safely storing poisonous substances in their original containers and in lockable cupboards.
- Always returning poisonous substances to their storage immediately after use.
- Ensuring that no plants on your property are poisonous.
- Carefully reading medication labels and only using as directed.
- Never consuming or administering medications in the dark.
- Writing down the time and dosage of medication taken to reduce the risk of accidental overdose.
- Safely disposing of expired or unneeded medications.
Toddlers increasing mobility, curiosity and inability to assess hazards places them at the greatest risk of unintentional poisonings. Additional behaviours that should be taken to reduce the risk of poisoning among children, include:
- Always supervising young children.
- Installing child-resistant mechanisms where poisonous substances are stored.
- Never taking medications in front of children.
- Not calling medications lollies.
Australia is home to around 100 species of venomous snakes, however snake bites can be prevented. To reduce your risk of being poisoned by a snake:
- Always look ahead of where you are walking;
- Wear long trousers and enclosed footwear when walking in bushland or grassy areas;
- Remove items around the house that may act as shelter for snakes from the weather; and
- If you do locate a snake, move a safe distance away from the snake.
What support is available to those affected by a poisoning?
If you suspect that someone has been poisoned and they have stopped breathing, do not hesitate to call 000 for an ambulance.
If someone has come into contact, consumed or inhaled a poison call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26, they are open 24 hours a day. To help the Poisons Information Centre provide specific advice, make sure you have the packaging of the poisonous substance with you.
Unless you have been instructed by the Poisons Information Centre or other health professional, do not induce vomiting or give the patient anything to eat or drink. If the poisoning is via skin exposure, wash the substance off the skin with running water.
If you suspect that someone has been bitten by a snake, treat all bites as potentially life threatening by;
- Not washing, squeezing or puncturing the bite site.
- Not removing clothing around the bite site.
- Applying a broad pressure, from below to above the bite site.
- Keeping the victim calm and still.
- Not giving the victim food or alcohol.
- Getting urgent medical attention.
Organisations and programs
Injury Matters Poisoning Resources
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3303.0 Causes of Death, Western Australia, 2019. (2020)
- Posa, I., McKenna, J. & Sharin, D. Kidsafe WA Childhood Injury Bulletin: Annual Report 2019-2020. (2020).
- North Metropolitan Health Service. Western Australian Poisons Information Centre Annual Report 2018. http://ow.ly/I81e50FkA4n (2019).