Poisons Information Helpline of the Western Cape | Western Cape Government

Poisons Information Helpline of the Western Cape


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

Call the Poisons Information Helpline of the Western Cape, on 0861 555 777, immediately if someone in your household has swallowed, inhaled or spilled poison on themselves.

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 Poisons Information Helpline of the Western Cape. The helpline is  a 24-hour service that will provide you with expert advice on the substance, its side effects, and what to do.


Poisons Information Helpline of the Western CapePoison 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. Keep all medicines, including herbal and homoeopathic medication, vitamins and over_ the- counter medication, in a locked cabinet where children can’t reach it.
  2. Teach your small children to "ask an adult first" before they put anything into their mouths.
  3. If guests bring medicines and other personal products, such as makeup and perfumes, into your home, you can keep them in a safe place, such as a locked cupboard.
  4. Don’t leave items such as hand sanitisers, perfume, air fresheners, bubble bath, and mouth wash in reach of small children.
  5. Don’t leave cigarettes and alcohol unattended where children can access them.
  6. Check your purse for potential hazards. Be aware of any medications or cosmetics that may be in your handbag. Keep handbags out of the reach of young children.
  7. Look under beds and furniture for stray pills or foreign bodies.
  8. Keep all insect repellents and rat poisons out of the reach of children. 
  9. 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, keep an eye on children playing with these items.
  10. Various household products can be toxic to your animals and pets, such as chocolate, ibuprofen, and lilies. Make sure they don’t ingest them. 

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


  • Call 0861 555 777 – the Poisons Information Helpline of the Western Cape - as soon as possible
  • If something harmful has spilt on a child, remove the child’s clothing 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 onto their left side (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 mouth and exposed area thoroughly with water (especially the skin and eyes) 
  • Call 0861 555 777


Thinners or Paraffin

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


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The content on this page was last updated on 5 July 2022