The Poisons That Lurk In Our Homes:How to keep children safe

Poisonings are the second leading cause of unintentional home-injury death and account for nearly one-third of all unintentional home injuries. “Every American home has potentially toxic products, including medications, pesticides and automotive fluids,” says Home Safety Council president, Meri-K Appy. “While families with young children need to take extra precautions, poison hazards are a risk for every family member. Safe handling and storage of potentially dangerous products should be a standard practice at home.”

Home Safety Council research has found that more than half of families reported chemicals left unlocked, and more than 80 percent of homes leave medicines unsecured. The Council recommends evaluating where hazardous materials are stored, including the kitchen, bathroom and garage areas, and taking appropriate precautions on a room-by-room basis throughout the home to help eliminate situations that could lead to a poisoning incident.

Poison Control Hotline:

Every Poison Control Center in the country can be reached by calling the AAPCC nationwide hotline, 1-800-222-1222. Families should post the hotline, along with other emergency numbers near every phone and call immediately in the event of a possible poisoning. The hotline also provides local poison prevention information.

Practice Poison Prevention Room by Room:


—Store all products in their original containers and in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

—Never transfer poisonous or caustic products to drinking glasses, soft drink bottles or other food containers. Store all harmful products away from food to avoid mistaken consumption.

—Homes with young children should have child locks installed on cabinets. Lock up all cleaning products and other chemicals, all medications and medical supplies and all other poisonous, toxic or caustic products.

—Purchase medications with child-resistant caps.

—Make sure all dangerous products have child-resistant caps, including cleaning products and chemicals.

—Read the use and storage directions before using products.

—Follow safety recommendations when using harsh products, such as wearing gloves and masks. Do not mix products together, because their contents could react together with dangerous results.

—Promptly put away products after use and immediately wipe up spills.


—All medicines, whether prescription or over-the-counter, are dangerous if used improperly and potentially poisonous to people of all ages. Vitamins, supplements, aspirin and other over-the-counter remedies, as well as most prescription medicines, should be purchased with child-resistant closures. Child-resistant packaging has been shown to protect children from poisoning.

—Lock medicines and medical supplies, including personal syringes, in a medicine cabinet or other locking cabinet and secure the key. —Do not store medicines inside purses, nightstand drawers, or other locations easily accessed by children.


—Capsules, tablets and liquid medications look alike and may also look similar to other dangerous products. If medications become separated from their original containers, don't assume it is safe to use them.

—Flush all unidentified and out-of-date medicines down the toilet. As medicines age, the chemicals inside them can change. Rinse the container well and discard it.

—Store all medicines in their original containers with the original labels intact. Prescription medicines may or may not list ingredients. In an emergency, the prescription number on the label will allow rapid identification of ingredients by your pharmacist.

—Treat all medicines and supplements as potential poisons, especially to young children.

—Some cosmetics and other personal care products can be highly toxic if consumed, and some contain caustic ingredients that can harm skin and eyes. Read all product packaging carefully and follow use and storage instructions.

—Use child safety locks on all cabinets where you store medicines, cosmetics and personal care products.

—If you provide care for someone who uses medications, carefully dispense the medicines and keep track of doses to ensure compliance with the prescription or medical recommendation.

—Install at least one carbon monoxide (CO) detector in your home, especially near the sleeping areas, to alert residents of a possible carbon monoxide leak.

Garage or Storage Area:

—In homes with young children, child-resistant caps should be on all dangerous products stored in the garage, such as charcoal lighter fluid, paint thinner, antifreeze and turpentine.

—Store all products in original containers and keep original labels legible.

—In homes with young children, store the products out of sight and reach – or better yet, locked up.

—Never transfer dangerous products to glass jars, soft drink bottles or other containers. Many products look alike. In addition to being mistakenly consumed or otherwise improperly used, the containers may leak or break, and it is easy to forget what product was placed in which container.

—Store only a small amount of gasoline and always in an approved container designed and labeled for gasoline. Because of its highly volatile flammable vapors, gasoline must never be brought indoors.

—Use a siphon hose if you must transfer gasoline; never try to siphon gasoline or other fuels by mouth. For more information on how to eliminate poison hazards at home, visit or