Living Room Safety

A living room with sofas, coffee table and other furiture

You might not expect to find products that could cause accidental poisoning in the living room or living area however, there are a number of everyday items that may cause harm if children accidentally swallow them or with skin or eye contact.

Products like reed diffusers, essential oils, pot pourri oils, air fresheners, cigarettes, nicotine chewing gum and patches, e-cigarettes and vaping products are just some every day products that may be left on coffee tables. Electrical air fresheners may be plugged in to electrical sockets at ground level within easy reach of children. Some of these items are considered to be highly toxic especially if swallowed by young children. Symptoms may include tummy upset, irritation to the mouth and throat, burns, and drowsiness.

Make sure remote control devices have a secure battery compartment to prevent children getting access to button batteries which can cause serious harm if swallowed. Always seek medical advice if you suspect accidental poisoning has occurred.

Firelighters or matches are often left at ground level by the fireplace for convenience in homes that have chimneys. These items should be stored out of reach and sight of children to prevent accidental ingestion.

Don’t leave alcohol remnants in glasses or cigarette butts in ashtrays, as even small amounts may cause potential poisoning in children if they accidentally swallow some. Always seek medical advice if you suspect accidental poisoning has occurred.

Some indoor plants, cut flowers and vase water that flowers have been standing in may be toxic if swallowed, so make sure that these are all kept out of reach of children. It is a good idea to know the names of houseplants in case accidental poisoning occurs so that the Poisons Centre can give you accurate advice on what to do.

If you have a buggy or pram, it might be kept in the living area. Always remove handbags and baby bags and check prams to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning in babies with products like medicine, alcohol hand gels, coins, and cosmetics that are often kept in handbags or purses/wallets.

If you are visiting the home of a relative, it is a good idea to always carry out a safety check of the rooms where children will spend time to see if there is anything harmful on the ground or within arm’s reach. It’s a good idea to crouch down to your child’s level to see if anything is lying under the sofa. Try to see what your baby or child might see or be able to reach, and remove them.


  • Keep reed diffusers and air fresheners up high and out of reach of children.
  • Keep handbags, briefcases, purses and wallets closed securely and out of reach and sight of children.
  • Always throw out any remaining alcohol in drinking glasses following a party to avoid leaving it there overnight and being a risk to children the following morning.
  • Empty and clean ashtrays.
  • Keep cigarettes, vaping products and other nicotine products out of children’s reach.
  • Always empty shopping bags straight away and put cleaning and other household products away into secure cupboards and presses.
  • Never leave medicine or medicine pillboxes within reach and sight of children.
  • Keep key fobs and remote controls out of reach of children and do not give them to children to play with.
  • Keep firelighters and matches off the floor and locked away.
  • Ask you garden center for advice when buying indoor plants to make sure they’re low in toxicity.


Know what to do if accidental poisoning occurs

If your child manages to get hold of medicines, cosmetics, creams etc. it is important to act quickly. Here’s a list of what you should do.

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Take the product from the child.
  3. If they swallowed the product, make them spit it out. Check their mouth for redness, irritation or burns.
  4. NEVER make your child vomit.
  5. If the product has splashed onto their skin or into their eyes rinse them for 15 minutes with running water. Do not apply eye drops to the eye.
  6. Signs and symptoms of poisoning can be delayed, so it is important to always seek medical advice.
  7. Bring the product container to the phone and call the Poisons Centre for advice on 01 809 2166 (available from 8am-10pm daily).

If your child has serious symptoms, for example if they are unconscious or having seizures, call the emergency services immediately on 999 or 112.


Contacting the National Poisons Information Centre

Healthcare Professional Line: 01 809 2566 (24hr)

Public Poisons Line: 01 809 2166 (8am-10pm)