Poisons Information Helpline of the Western Cape | Western Cape Government

22Covid-19 Alerts

COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Dashboard

View Vaccine information

Other COVID-19 Information and Dashboard

View COVID-19 information

TB Information and Dashboard

View TB information

Poisons Information Helpline of the Western Cape


PoisonThe occurrence of accidental poisoning is unfortunately common. Many children unintentionally swallow, drink or eat poisonous products, often mistaking them for edible foodstuff. There are other ways poison can also enter the body, such as by breathing, injection, venomous bites or stings, or touching enough of a substance that could cause illness or death. 

It’s important to call the Poison Information Helpline of the Western Cape, on 0861 555 777, immediately if someone in your household has consumed, inhaled or breathed in poison.

The Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital Poison Information Centre and the Tygerberg Hospital Poison Information Centre have combined their strengths to form the Western Cape Poison Information Helpline, a 24-hour service linked to the hospitals' emergency services. The Poison Information Helpline will provide you with expert advice on the substance and its side effects, and they’ll advise you on what to do.


PoisonPoison prevention tips:

Share this information with grandparents, family members, friends, caregivers and babysitters to make sure that everyone stays safe:

Keep the Poison Information Helpline 24/7 emergency number 0861 555 777 on your cell phone or near your landline. 

  1. Teach your small children to "ask an adult first" before they put anything into their mouths.
  2. Keep all medicines, including herbal and homoeopathic medication, vitamins and minerals and over the counter medication in a locked cabinet where children can’t reach it.
  3. If guests bring medicines and other personal products, such as makeup and perfumes, into your home, you can also keep them in a safe place such as a locked cupboard.
  4. Don’t leave opened gifts such as perfume, bubble bath, button batteries, and alcohol unattended and in reach of small children.
  5. Make sure that you keep glasses containing alcoholic beverages away from children or empty them immediately after use.
  6. Various household products such as chocolate, ibuprofen, and lilies can be toxic to your animals and pets. Make sure they don’t ingest it. 
  7. Keep hand sanitizers and insect repellents out of the reach of children. 
  8. Keep button batteries and magnets out of reach of children and pets because they’re easy to swallow and can cause serious harm. Be on the lookout for button batteries in some toys and watches, and make sure to keep an eye on children playing with these items.
  9. Look under beds and furniture for stray pills or foreign bodies. Keep medications and personal hygiene items such as mouthwashes out of the reach of children. 
  10. Check your purse for potential hazards. Be aware of any medications or cosmetics that may be in your handbag. Store handbags out of the reach of young children.

What are the First Aid steps if a child is poisoned?


  • Call 0861 555 777 – the Poisons Information Helpline - as soon as possible
  • If something harmful has spilt on a child, remove clothing of the child and wash the skin (and eyes, if affected) with plenty of fresh water for at least 15 minutes
  • Move the child to fresh air immediately if they inhale a poisonous gas or smoke.
  • If the child is unconscious, gently turn them into the recovery position and tilt the chin upwards so that they can breathe freely, then call an ambulance.


  • Don’t make the child vomit
  • Don’t force a child to drink anything (even milk), but you may rinse the child’s mouth with water

What are the common poisons, and how should they be treated?

ALL Medications

  • Call 0861 555 777 immediately to find out whether you can monitor your child at home or need to take them  to the clinic or hospital

The following household products and cosmetics may cause chemical burns in the mouth and throat:

  • Laundry capsules
  • Potassium permanganate
  • Hair straighteners
  • Drain cleaners
  • Bleach (although seldom very harmful)
  • Rinse exposed area thoroughly with water (especially the skin and eyes) 
  • Call 0861 555 777


Thinners or Paraffin

  • Don't make the child vomit
  • Rinse the body with water if spilt on the skin or splashed in the eyes
  • Call 0861 555 777


Provided by:
Government Body: (Department of Health and Wellness, Western Cape Government)
The content on this page was last updated on 28 June 2021