Mistaken Identities

If it looks like cherry soda and it smells like cherry soda, then it must be cherry soda — right? Not always. Pretend for a moment that you are a hungry, thirsty and very curious young child who is exploring your home looking for something to eat or drink. You can’t read labels so you rely on your most basic instincts and senses to understand the world around you. Your world is centered on taste, sight, touch and smell. If something looks pretty, feels nice or smells good, you might think it tastes good and is good for you.


Test your knowledge of some common look-alike household products. Can you identify each item? In the following groups of products, guess the letter of the product that could be potentially poisonous.

Remember: There could be more than one dangerous substance in a group. Can you be sure what you’re looking at? Are those pills or candy? Is that cherry soda or lamp oil?

Mistaken Identities Game - QuestionsMistaken Identities Game - Answers


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Remember these poison prevention tips

  • Young children are curious; things that look or smell good may end up in their mouths. Keep all potentially poisonous products up and out of the reach of children.
  • Store poisons in their original containers.
  • Use child-resistant packaging. But remember — nothing is child-proof.
  • Read labels and follow the directions on all medicines and products.
  • Lock products and medicines up after using them.
  • If children are around, take the product or medicine with you if you need to leave the room.
  • Call medicine by its proper name. Never call it candy.
  • Children learn by imitation. Take your medicine where children can’t watch.
  • Many unintentional poisonings occur near mealtimes when children are hungry. Poisons can look like food and drink. Teach children to ask an adult before eating or drinking anything. Pay close attention to young children, especially at mealtimes.
  • Children think that all poisons smell bad. Teach your children that things that smell good also may be harmful.
  • Children think they can only be poisoned if they eat or drink something harmful. Teach your children that a poison is something that can cause injury, illness or death if you eat, drink or breathe it, or even get it on your skin or in your eyes.


  • TASTE:    Is it yummy or yucky?
  • SIGHT:    Is it pretty or ugly?
  • TOUCH:  Does it feel soft and smooth like preschool toys or sharp like a pin?
  • SMELL:   Does it smell sweet or foul?

Look around your home. There probably are many common household products — stored within your child’s reach — that might be appealing to a young child because of the way they taste, look, feel or smell. When used correctly, household products are safe and useful. However, children unintentionally swallow products like mouthwash, furniture polish and dish detergent every day. Potential poisons are everywhere.

You can learn more poison prevention tips and information about Mr. Yuk at the Pittsburgh Poison Center website.

About Pittsburgh Poison Center

The Pittsburgh Poison Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide poison information and respond to emergencies. You can call 1-800-222-1222, 24 hours a day, for emergency help. We answer more than 100,000 calls each year from across Pennsylvania, at no cost to callers. Our staff of nurse specialists has extensive training in clinical toxicology. We also created a network of more than 70 hospitals throughout the state for consultation and follow-up treatment of poison exposure. For nearly 50 years, our symbol Mr. Yuk has helped to educate children and adults about poison prevention and poison center awareness. All stickers of Mr. Yuk carry important poison control phone numbers.