Poison-Proofing Your Home: Identifying Common Household Poisons

Statistics show that over 300 children in the United States are treated everyday in an emergency department from being poisoned. The CDC reports that at least two children die daily as a result of exposure to poisons. These numbers are dramatic, so it is necessary to check your home and property for potential hazards.

There are many items in every room of your home that can be poisonous, especially to children. Many of us use these common household items multiple times a day and do not think twice about their hazardous effects; however, it is important to recognize that these products are toxic and can result in serious injury or death.

A child can become ill in several different ways after being exposed to household poisons. If a child gets a product on their skin or eyes, burning, redness, or itching could occur. Poisons with a strong smell can produce a headache, cause drowsiness, nausea, or loss of consciousness. Poisons that are consumed can cause serious damage to the esophagus and internal organs.

Types of Common Household Poisons


Kitchen

Ammonia
Cooking oils
Non-stick sprays
Dishwasher detergents
Disinfectants
Drain cleaners
Dry cleaning liquids
Dyes
Floor cleaners
Furniture polish and creams
Glass cleaners
Lye
Metal cleaners
Oven cleaners
Scouring powders

Since single-wash dish and laundry detergent packets became available, the rate of poisoning incidents in children increased significantly. A study showed that in the first six months of 2013, almost 5,000 children under the age of 5 were poisoned from individual detergent packets.

Laundry Room

Bleach
Laundry detergents (liquid and powdered)
Spot removers
Fabric softener
Spray starch


Bedroom and Bathroom

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Alcohol
All drugs and medicines
Analgesics (pain killer)
Anticonvulsants (antiseizure drug)
Antidepressants
Antidiarrheal
Antihistamines (allergy medicine)
Antiseptics (mouthwash)
Aspirin
Barbiturates (sedatives)
Bath salts
Camphor
Cough syrups and lozenges
Wart removers
Eye drops
Laxatives
Liniments
Lotions and creams
Nicotine patches
Pain remedies
Bath oils
Rubbing alcohol
Shampoo
Sleep aids
Soap
Tranquilizers
Toilet bowl cleaner
Vitamins
Zinc oxide
Jewelry cleaner

If you have expired or old medications that you have not used in a while, it is important to safely dispose of these medicines. It is no longer recommended that medications are flushed down the toilet because they will get into the sewer system and become recalculated throughout the water supply. Instead, utilize a drug recycling program. Many local police and fire departments will host a “Drug Take Back Day” where you can bring in your unwanted medications and the officials will properly dispose of them for you.

Cosmetics and Toiletries

Aftershave lotions
Cologne and perfumes
Deodorant
Hair products (hair spray, dyes, gels, mousse, etc.)
Hair removers
Mouthwash
Nail polish
Polish remover


Garden

Fertilizers
Herbicides
Insecticides
Pesticides
Rat poison
Plants (There are thousands of poisonous plants. Contact Poison Control if you suspect a wild flower, seed, bulb, berry, mushroom, or wood has been ingested.)

There are several plants that homeowners tend to have in their household unaware that they are poisonous and have harmful effects. If you have children, refrain from having the following house plants:

  • Hyacinth
  • Narcissus
  • Daffodil
  • Oleander
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Elephant Ear
  • Rosary Pea
  • Castor Bean

Garage and Basement

Acids
Antifreeze
Automotive products (waxes, engine fluids, windshield washer fluid, motor oil)
Caulk
Degreasers
Gasoline
Lacquers
Paint
Paint remover
Paint thinner
Petroleum products (kerosene, lighter fluid)
Rust remover
Solvents (Acetone)
Turpentine
Varnish

Poison Control reports that children get into gasoline most often in the summertime. While parents are fueling lawn mowers and trimming equipment, kids have more of an opportunity to ingest gasoline from a gas can. If your child swallows gasoline, give them a few sips of water or milk and call poison control immediately.

Other

Adhesive and glues
Air fresheners
Batteries
Broken plaster
Camping or candle oils
Carbon monoxide (vehicle exhaust, heaters, grills)
Cigarettes and tobacco
Liquid incense
Liquor and alcoholic beverages
Mace
Mothballs
Potpourri
Carpet and upholstery cleaners
Gun cleaners
Chlorine and other pool chemicals

Protect Yourself and Your Children


  • Keep poisons in their original bottle or make sure other bottles are properly labeled. If you choose to transfer your products into a different container or spray bottle, make a label for the bottle so other members of your household know what is in the bottle. Never use food containers for storage.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, combining bleach and ammonia can create toxic fumes.
  • Wear protective clothing. Use gloves, protective eyewear, and clothing that covers your skin when using chemicals.
  • Notify Poison Control for any incidents of accidental poisoning. Stay calm and act fast. Call Poison Control immediately if your child has ingested a poison. If you are unsure if your child has ingested a poison, but you suspect it, it is better to report it to be on the safe side.

Program the Poison Control phone number in your cell phone: 1-800-222-1222.

  • Keep the above listed poisons out of reach of children. Store poisonous products up high where children can’t access them or in locked cabinets.
  • Disinfect and decontaminate. Wash your hands after handling cleaning products and toxic chemicals before holding or touching your children.
  • Educate children. Teach children that even though some products may smell good or be a pretty color, or look like candy, doesn’t mean they are safe.
For more information on other items that need to be baby-proofed throughout your house, check out Baby Proofing Tips For New & Experienced Parents.

Sources: Poison Safety, Tips to Prevent Poisonings, How to Properly Dispose of Medication, Child Poisoning Facts and Statistics, Hidden Dangers in the Home, Common Poisonous Plants and Plant Parts, Poison Statistics, Gasoline and Toddlers: Summer Risk
Photo Credits: Sasha Staton, Pixabay

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Sasha Staton

Sasha is a new mother to her baby boy and is loving motherhood! Sasha has dedicated her career to protecting the public and has served in almost every realm of public safety. Sasha is the Spokesperson for a Fire Department and is committed to teaching both children and adults about fire safety and prevention. Before diving into the fire service, she was a triple certified Law Enforcement Officer, Emergency Medical Technician, and Ocean Rescue Lifeguard. Sasha received her undergraduate degree in Family, Youth, and Community Science from the University of Florida and also holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice. In her free time, Sasha loves traveling with her family, doing DIY projects, and all water activities, especially kayaking with her two dogs on board.

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