Don’t drink the finger paint!

School-related poisonings affect hundreds of Kentucky families

While most parents are worried about back-to-school shopping, early bedtimes and homework, there’s something even worse that can ruin your child’s school year: being poisoned.

Every year, the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center receives hundreds of calls from teachers and parents across the commonwealth involving a child who may have been poisoned at school. While many think the majority of incidents involve young children, cases involving school-age kids and teens are nearly split.

“The most common calls we get from schools are about one of three things: medications, kids consuming art and school supplies (accidentally or intentionally) and food poisoning,” said Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center and a board-certified clinical toxicologist.

The Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center offers tips for parents and teachers on how to prevent your kids from being poisoned.

Medication: Most poisonings stem from students taking other people’s medications or taking too much. Parents should:

•Find out your school district policies before sending medication to school. If your child will need to be given medication at school, be sure to provide a list of all medications along with dosage and schedule.
•Talk to your children about never sharing their own or taking anyone else’s medicine, including inhalers.
•Always keep medications in their original containers and never mix different medications into one container.
•If your child takes daily medication at home, consider using a whiteboard or notepad to indicate that the medication has been given in order to prevent accidental overdoses.
•Remind teenagers to only take the recommended amount of over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Art and school supplies: Ingesting these happens more often in young children who are enticed by new and colorful things that may look like food. Parents and teachers should:

•Not serve food and drinks while children are using art products.
•Talk to preschoolers and kindergarteners about how they should always ask an adult before eating or drinking anything new.
•Make sure children use art products correctly. Read labels before using new products and follow directions for safe use, disposal and cleanup.
•Call the poison control center for treatment advice if children put art products in their mouths, eyes or on their skin.

Food: Most food-related poisonings are easily preventable. Some tips when packing lunches:

•Perishable items such as meats, cheeses, yogurt and eggs should include two cold sources. Examples include ice packs and frozen water or juice.
•If you pack school lunches the night before, be sure to keep the lunch in the refrigerator overnight.
•Throw away all leftover food and do not reuse food packaging or paper bags.

The primary mission of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital is to reduce illness and death from poisoning in Kentucky. The center provides 24/7 free and confidential access to specially trained nurses, pharmacists and physicians who are certified in toxicology. More information is available at

Schedule an Appointment

Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.