When: March 21-27, 2021Purpose: To raise awareness and provide tips to prevent unintentional poisoning among British Columbians, with a focus on promoting safe storage practices and helping parents understand how to #CheckForPoisons and make their homes poison safe, looking at common poisons such as household cleaners, hand sanitizers, cannabis products, medications, and more.

Audience: Parents of children 0-18 years old; adults 25-54; and older adults 65+


  • Cannabis-related poisoning in kids (edibles)
  • Other causes of poisoning in kids (medications, cleaners, hand sanitizer)
  • Unintentional cannabis poisoning in teens and adults
  • Medication poisoning in older adults (65+)
  • Prevention tips

Hashtags: #HighandLocked #NPPW2021



  • Over 26,000 unintentional and intentional poisonings are reported to the BC Poison Control Centre each year.A
  • The BC Poison Control Centre receives over 70 calls each day about someone being poisoned in British Columbia.A
  • On average, 242 kids (20/month) are hospitalized each year in BC from unintentional poisoning.B
  • Cannabis is a factor in almost 400 injury-related hospitalizations each year.B
  • Almost 60 injury-related deaths each year involve cannabis.C
  • Each day in BC, unintentional poisoning results in health care costs of nearly $1 million.D

A BC Drug and Poison Information Centre (DPIC).

B Discharge Abstract Database, Ministry of Health, average data 2014/15 to 2016/17.

C BC Vital Statistics, Ministry of Health. Retrieved from BCIRPU Injury Data Online Tool, 2020.

D Rajabali F, Beaulieu E, Smith J, Pike I (2018). The economic burden of injuries in British Columbia: Applying evidence to practice. BCMJ 60 (7) pp. 358-364.


  • For Parents:
    • Do you know what to do if your child is poisoned? Call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911. If they are unconscious, having a seizure, difficulty breathing, or chest pain, call 9-1-1 immediately.
    • Never call medicine or cannabis “candy” and do not take either in front of a child because he or she might copy you.
    • Children are vulnerable to poisoning from the chemicals in cannabis because of their small body size and lower weight.
    • Keep products in their original containers. Make sure they are clearly labeled.
    • Only 40% of Canadian parents report knowing about local poison control resources. Call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911 for more information. Keep the number stored in your phone or in a visible location, such as on your fridge.1
    • Edibles can have a stronger, more prolonged effect on the body than other forms of cannabis. Ingesting cannabis is the most common cause of cannabis poisoning in children.
    • Only 1 in 4 parents properly store their cannabis edibles. Remember to always keep them out of sight and locked up tight.
    • It’s easy for a child to mistake cannabis edibles for candies or sweets. Prevent poisoning before it happens.
    • 94% of Canadian parents who use cannabis agree it is their responsibility to safely put away their cannabis.
  • For Teens and Adults:
    • Edible cannabis products take longer to take effect than smoking or vaping.
    • Symptoms of cannabis poisoning include chest pain, rapid heartbeat, nausea or vomiting, and severe anxiety.6
    • When cannabis and alcohol are used at the same time, your chances of negative side effects are greater (panic, anxiety, dizziness, vomiting)2,3
    • If you have had too much cannabis, try to remain calm, stay hydrated, and eat something.  Stay with friends in a safe place.3
  • For Older Adults: (Finding Balance)
    • 1 in 5 adults over 55 years say that they have trouble remembering when or if they have taken a medication.4
    • One-third of Canadians over 55 years are not taking their prescription medications properly.4
    • Talk to your pharmacist about your medications and how they can affect each other—this includes prescriptions, over-the-counter, vitamins, and herbal products.
    • Some medications increase your risk of falling – either on their own or when two or more are combined.5
    • Even medications that relax you, help you sleep, or improve your mood can increase your risk of falling.5
    • Call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911 for more information.

1 Parachute https://parachute.ca/en/program/poison-prevention-week/

2 Drug Free Kids Canada http://bit.ly/39L23jK

3 VCH http://www.vch.ca/public-health/harm-reduction/cannabis-marijuana

4 Preventable https://www.preventable.ca/unsure-about-your-medication/

5 Finding Balance BC https://findingbalancebc.ca/medications/

6 Health Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/campaigns/cannabis/health-effects.html#a8