Preventing Medication Poisoning in Children

National Poison Prevention Week is March 19-25, 2017

Improperly-stored medications is a leading cause of childhood poisoning in Alberta.

  • In 2014, 1,750 children under 10 years old visited emergency departments for unintentional poisoning.
  • Medication was involved in 7 out of 10 of these visits.
  • The Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) receives over 15,600 calls every year concerning unintentional poisoning incidents involving young children.

Join our campaign and promote safe storage of medications. For more information and resources, click through the tabs above. You can also register to receive updates.

Campaign Key Messages

Secure medications

Keep all prescription and over-the-counter medications locked up tight, out of sight, and in their original containers. Remember, child-resistant caps on medication bottles are not childproof.

Medication safety

When taking your medications, do it away from children. Children often copy the actions of their parents.

Medication safety

Guests, family or friends may bring their own medication into your home. Put purses, backpacks and coats out of children’s reach.

Put the Poison and Drug Information Services (PADIS) emergency number in your phones. If you have a poisoning emergency call PADIS at 1-800-332-1414.

Campaign Supporters

Did you know?

Prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause poisoning.

  • 56% of calls made to Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) involve children under the age of 10 in the year 2015.
  • 1,750 children under 10 visited emergency departments for poisoning treatment in 2014.
  • 7 out of 10 poisonings involving children under 10 that were treated in emergency departments involved medications.

Drugs commonly involved in child poisonings include:

  • Acetaminophen (used in pain relievers)
  • Ibuprofen (used in anti-inflammatory medications)
  • Multivitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • diphenhydramine (commonly used in antihistamines or sedatives)

You can protect children from medication poisoning

Store all medications locked up tight and out of sight.

  • A lock box is an ideal storage container but these are often difficult to find. Other containers could be a lockable tool box or cash lock box.
  • Child resistant containers are NOT childproof. With enough time and determination a child may open a child resistant container.

Take your medications where children can’t see you.

  • Children often copy the actions of their parents. Take your medications out of sight of children.

Keep visitors’ bags and coats out of reach.

  • Family, babysitters and house guests may have medication in their purses, backpacks or briefcases. Place these items up high and out of sight.

Program the Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) into your phone.

  • If you think a child has been poisoned or taken improper medication, call PADIS at 1-800-332-1414.

Find out more!

Participate in the Preventing Medication Poisoning in Children Campaign

National Poison Prevention Week is March 19 -25th
You can provide valuable information on the safe storage of prescription and over-the-counter medications to parents and caregivers in your community.

Use our guidebook
Improve awareness and increase prevention of medication-related poisonings in children. This information is geared towards parents, grandparents and caregivers. The guidebook includes ideas and activities that engage people and provide them with tools to protect their children and grandchildren.


Free Campaign Materials

These materials support activities during the week of March 19 – 25th to highlight the provincial campaign. However, the campaign materials are not dated and can be used throughout the year.

There is no charge for these materials, but we require your feedback. To help us build on success, kindly fill out the survey we provide after the campaign.

IPC Postcard New postcards demonstrate 3 ways to prevent medication poisoning in children. Colourful images and simple messaging make them easy to read and share!

Poison and Drug Information Service Items
Secure medications Pens, rulers, magnets and cards feature the number to call in a poisoning emergency.


Additional resources available for download

For more information about the campaign contact Patti Stark.

Injury Prevention Centre

The Injury Prevention Centre (IPC) is a provincial organization that focuses on reducing catastrophic injury and death in Alberta. We act as a catalyst for action by supporting communities and decision-makers with knowledge and tools. We raise awareness about preventable injuries as an important component of life-long health and wellness.

Since its inception in 1998, the Injury Prevention Centre has been working towards its vision of an injury free Alberta in which to work, play and live.

The Injury Prevention Centre is part of the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta with core funding provided by Alberta Health. Visit for more information.

Poison and Drug Information Service

Alberta’s Poison and Drug Information Services (PADIS) offers 24/7 telephone advice on poisons, chemicals, medicines and herbal supplements including:

  • emergency advice about poisonings
  • poison research, education, and prevention
  • drug information for healthcare providers
  • medication advice for the general public
Visit for more information. If you have a poisoning emergency, call PADIS at 1-800-332-1414

Alberta Poison Prevention Working Group

Established in 2015, the Alberta Poison Prevention Working Group has focused its work on preventing childhood poisonings. Utilizing data and research, the group launched the Preventing Medication Poisoning in Children Campaign in March 2016. Based on the success of the campaign, the group is working to expand the reach and scope of the campaign for 2017.

The group consists of members from: Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services – Provincial Injury Prevention and Zone Health Promotion, Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) and the Injury Prevention Centre. There a couple of organizations who while unable to participate fully on the working group, have chosen to receive emails and updates about ongoing work and activities of the group, this includes the Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association, South Eastern Alberta Safety Alliance Society, Ben Calf Robe Society, Candora Society and the Medical Examiner’s Office.