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Back to School Safety

School is back in session! This is an exciting time of year for kids and a great time to remind everyone about the importance of poison prevention. There are many ways to be poison safe at home and at school during this time of year. Read more for a quick refresher about back to school safety!


screenshot-isthisapoisonArts and crafts activities are always a favorite for students. There are many art products children use at school on a regular basis. It is not uncommon for a young student to put a marker in their mouth, taste the glue left on their finger, or drink a sip of water used to wash out the paintbrushes. Exposures can also happen in older children if they chew on the end of a pen and it explodes in their mouth. When this happens, as parents and educators, we may ask ourselves, “Is this a poison?” Luckily, most of the products on the market today are non-toxic and will not cause any significant symptoms. That said, it is important to know the supplies our children are working with and follow the instructions on the package. We have a section on our website dedicated to that very question (Is This a Poison?). Check it out to search specific school supplies (e.g., markers, glue, paint) and learn what to do when an exposure happens.

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screenshot-handsanitizerWith so many children in one place, germs can spread like wild-fire at school. A good way to prevent illness is to keep their hands clean. Hand sanitizer is a quick and easy way for students to prevent the spread of germs. Many students have small bottles of hand sanitizer attached to their backpack and there is usually a large pump bottle in the classroom. The Missouri Poison Center often receives calls about children who accidentally ingest a small amount of hand sanitizer while using the product. Hand sanitizers usually contain alcohol, the same type you would find in an alcoholic beverage. While alcohol poisonings are possible from hand sanitizer, accidentally ingesting a small amount while applying the product should NOT cause a child to get sick. The best advice is to teach children how to use hand sanitizers properly and supervise them while they learn. The CDC recommends to apply the hand sanitizer to the palm, rub hands together to cover all surfaces, and continue to rub together until completely dry (usually 20 seconds).

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At school, medication safety is important for children of all ages. It is not only about making sure your child is getting their medication when they need it, but it is also about ensuring medications are not shared among friends. Always follow the policy for your individual school and educate your child about the medication they take. The Missouri Poison Center often gets calls about children receiving an extra dose of medication at school – the parent gives it at home and then the school nurse gives them the same medication. If your child receives medication at school, provide a list of all medications with dosage instructions and stick with a consistent schedule.

Here are some discussion points to go over with your children and/or students. To learn more, check out the Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety Program here.

  • Be sure to read & follow the medicine label every time.
  • Be sure never to share your medicine with someone else or use someone else’s medicine.
  • Remember to always use the dosing device that comes with the medicine and keep the medicine in the original container.
  • Do not take multiple medicines with the same active ingredient.
  • Store all medicines up & away and out of reach and sight.
  • Be sure to only take medicines with the permission and guidance from a parent or trusted adult.
  • Remind teenagers to only take the recommended amount of their medications and talk with them about medication abuse and misuse.

For more information about keeping your family safe at all ages, check out the Families section of our website.

If you have any questions about poisonings, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.  The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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