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Matches on a white background close-up. Box of matches. Matches made of wood and sulfur. The ignition of matches.

Low Risk

Possible Symptoms
  • Stomach upset
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
What to Do
  1. Wipe or rinse out the mouth.
  2. Give a serving size of water to drink.
  3. Rinse any exposed skin with lukewarm water and soap.
  4. Call 1-800-222-1222 for additional instructions.

Ingestion of matches can be a problem if a large amount are intentionally eaten. There can be serious symptoms which include damage to the liver and kidneys that requires emergency medical care. Call the Missouri Poison Center right away if this occurs.

Call 1-800-222-1222

Additional Information

Quick Facts about matches:

Matches are made up of a stick with a flammable coating on the tip. The match stick is made of wood or cardboard and is not toxic, but can be a choking hazard for children.  The tip of the match is made of a flammable material which catches fire by striking it across a surface that provides friction.  This substance is usually potassium chlorate, which is also used as an explosive in fireworks and as an ingredient in some disinfectants.  Sometimes children get into matches and may bite off the match tips. In general, these small accidental ingestions result in no symptoms or only minor effects such as stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  If a very large amount of match tips are intentionally ingested, there is a risk for serious symptoms.

Of course, there is also the risk of accidental fire when children play with matches. They should be kept out of the sight and reach of children.

If you find your child with matches, do not panic.  Take the matches away from them, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink.  If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222.  The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

IMPORTANT: If a very large amount is intentionally consumed, there can be serious symptoms which includes damage to the liver and kidneys that require emergency medical care.

Call 1-800-222-1222

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Steven Haye: