Back-to-School Safety

Poison exposure & chronic illnesses

Common chronic illnesses, such as asthma and food allergies, can worsen with exposure to potentially toxic substances. Potentially toxic substances are not always harmful to everyone. However, for those with chronic conditions, substances such as certain food items or environmental factors, may be harmful. While most poison exposures in children cause temporary or mild symptoms, it is important to know how to find help when serious exposures happen.


Tips for educators

Teachers, school nurses, or any school medical staff should be informed of a student's chronic illness. Be prepared for an emergency. If you or someone you know may have been exposed to poison or have any poison-related questions, call the California Poison Hotline immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

To help prevent poison exposure in the classroom, here are a few tips:

  • Students and staff should wash their hands with soap and water based on school procedures and at recommended key times such as after bathroom breaks, before lunch, or after playing outside.
  • Before using cleaning products in the classroom, carefully read labels and follow the directions.
  • Store all cleaners out of sight and reach of children, and in their original containers.
  • Never mix different cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting chemicals.
  • Monitor children when using hand sanitizers—only use a dime-sized amount on the skin.
  • Pest control within schools should be conducted according to local regulations.

Tips for families & individuals

To maintain your child's well-being at school, here are a few tips:

  • Inform school staff of potentially toxic substances that can worsen your child's diagnosed chronic illness.
  • Develop a health management plan with school staff for correct medication usage and storage to be poison-safe in the classroom.
  • Call the CA Poison Control System for poison-related questions regarding your child's health.

Families need to take the necessary steps to maintain their children’s well-being by sharing their children's health and early treatment information with appropriate school staff. Families and school staff should call the California Poison Control System 24-hour Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 for any poison-related questions and possible poison exposure to help with chronic disease management in the classroom.

For COVID-19 prevention in the classroom, please contact your school district or local health department.


  • Sign up for text tips. Text TIPS to 20121 for poison safety information in English. Text PUNTOS for Spanish.
  • Be prepared in case of poison exposure by saving the California Poison Hotline (1-800-222-1222) in your phone and post it somewhere visible in your classroom. You can order magnet logos and other helpful poison-prevention materials here.

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