Be aware of potential poisons in your household

Detergent gel packs often mistaken by kids as candy. These should be stored out of reach for children.

Never leave potentially poisonous household products unattended while in use. Most child poison exposure occurs in the home between 4 and 11 p.m. to children of 8 months and 6 years old. Store potentially poisonous household products and medications locked out of childrenís sight and reach. Read labels to find out what is poisonous.

Potential hazards

  • Alcohol
  • Batteries
  • Bug and weed killers
  • Cigarettes
  • Cleaning products
  • Iron pills
  • Laundry products
  • Lighter fluids
  • Medicines
  • Mouthwash
  • Nail polish remover
  • Plants (indoor and outdoor)

Remember the before, while and after rule

  • Before using a cleaning product, read the instructions on the bottle.
  • While using a cleaning product, never leave it alone. A child may find it.
  • After using a product, put it back in a locked cabinet. Make sure the container is closed tightly.
    • Never mix cleaning products
    • Buy child-resistant packages when available. Keep products in their original packages to avoid confusion.
    • Be aware of poisons that may be in your handbag. Store handbags out of the reach of young children. Never carry something that can be poisonous, such as medicine, in a purse where children may find it.

Other poisons that may be present in the home

  • Test children for lead exposure, and test homes built before 1978 for lead-based paint. If it is found, cover the lead paint with a sealant or hire a professional abatement company to remove the paint.
  • Frequently wash childrenís hands and faces, as well as their toys and pacifiers, to reduce the risk of ingesting lead-contaminated dust.
  • Install Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms in every sleeping area and on all levels of your home. Check the batteries every month.
  • If the alarm sounds, leave the home immediately and call for help from a neighborís home or a cell phone outside the home.
  • Ensure that space heaters, furnaces,fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are vented properly and inspected annually.
  • Remove a vehicle from the garage to warm it up, even if the garage door is kept open.

Be safe when taking or administering medication

  • Always read labels, follow directions and give medicines to children based on their weights and ages. Only use the dispensers packaged with childrenís medications.
  • Donít take medicine or vitamins in front of kids, and donít call them candy.
  • Throw away old medicine into the trash, but not within your childís reach.
  • If you are asked to give medicine to a child, follow the instructions on the bottle. After using the medicine, return the bottle to a safe storage place right away. Never leave a child alone with the medicine.
  • Tell grandparents and friends about avoiding medication poisoning when your family visits their homes.

Keep the toll-free nationwide poison control center number 800-222-1222 and local emergency numbers near every telephone.

  • If you suspect poisoning and a child is choking, collapses canít breathe or is having a seizure, call 911. Otherwise, take the product to the phone and call the poison control hotline.
  • Follow the operatorís instructions.
  • Donít make the child vomit or give him anything unless directed.

Safety tips for babysitters

Caring for children is a great job, but keeping children safe is a serious and important part of babysitting. Poisoning is one of the most common childhood injuries. Most of the time poisoning happens right at home. Children who are between the ages of 8 months and 6 years old are the most likely to be poisoned.

Poisons can look like things that are good to eat and drink. They can come in many colors and forms including solids, liquids, sprays or gases. Young children are curious. They like to put things in their mouth, especially if they look colorful or smell nice. Itís a good idea to have emergency information handy when youíre babysitting. Make sure you have parent contact information and also the number for your poison control center: 800-222-1222.

Keep children where you can see them at all times, even when you go to answer the door or telephone. Never leave young children alone.

Fact sheets and resources

Safe Kids USA

  • Poison Fact sheet - PDF
  • Baby Safety Basics guide - PDF (ENG) | PDF (SPA)
  • Medication Safety Infographic - PDF | PDF with footnotes
  • Medication Safety Tip sheets - PDF
  • Medication Safety: Safe Seniors - PDF
  • Medicine Safety: Safe Disposal - PDF
  • Medicine Safety: Safe Storage - PDF

Website resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention