By Rob Carter & Gene Rice
PrepareFirst, Atlanta, GA

Take a few minutes to consider these safety tips for keeping your family safe from poisons commonly found around the home.

  • KEEP CHEMICALS AND MEDICINES UP HIGH. Keep them out of sight and use locks. “Child guard” caps are frequently no match for determined children. Children often can reach more than parents think they can or might drag a chair to the counter if they saw you use one.
  • DON’T LEAVE ANY MEDICINES OR CHEMICALS UNATTENDED. Poisonings can happen quickly when adults using the items become temporarily distracted.  As soon as you are finished with the item, even if it is medicine you need to take often, put it away for safety even though it is less convenient for you.
  • CALL MEDICINE WHAT IT IS WITH CHILDREN and never describe it as candy or something food-like.
  • DON’T TAKE MEDICINE YOURSELF WITH SMALL CHILDREN PRESENT Is it a beverage or a dangerous cleaner?since children learn by imitating what they see adults do.
  • STORE CHEMICALS AND MEDICINES IN THEIR ORIGINAL CONTAINERS to ensure all items are properly identified, and keep them away from food storage areas since many hazardous chemicals and medicines look like attractive foods to eat or drink. Poisonous products come in containers that are very similar to drink or food containers.
  • STORE INCOMPATIBLE CHEMICALS SEPARATELY such as ammonia and bleach which, if they interact, can produce very toxic fumes.  Read labels carefully which will indicate what to watch out for.
  • KNOW YOUR PLANTS since a variety of common household plants are poisonous. Be careful of dangerous fertilizer chemicals which may reside in the potting material of the plants.
  • AVOID CAT LITTER IF YOU ARE PREGNANT since litter boxes are breeding grounds for germs and dangerous bacteria, particularly if you have an “outside” cat.  Likewise, it’s good to keep children away from the box, as well as dogs who, too often, view litter box contents as complimentary hors d’oeuvres.
  • READ DIRECTIONS VERY CAREFULLY WHEN GIVING MEDICINE TO CHILDREN as incorrect doses can pose serious risks.
  • SECURE YOUR COSMETICS WHEREVER THEY ARE (in purses, master bathroom, etc.).
  • KEEP eCIGARETTES AWAY FROM CHILDREN since they and liquid nicotine can be harmful if ingested.
  • KEEP ALL SMALL BATTERIES SECURE FROM CHILDREN Gel laundry capsulessince they can be a major source of injury if swallowed or even placed in an ear or nose.  Serious chemicals burns can occur.  Such batteries are commonly found in hearing aids, watches, toys, games, flashing jewelry, singing greeting cards, remote control devices, etc.
  • LAUNDRY DETERGENT PACKETS are dangerous. Highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry packets can cause serious harm and should be stored securely up high.
  • CHECK FOR RADON in your home since the radioactive material in radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States for non-smokers.
  • ELIMINATE MOLD since many molds can cause illness and discomfort if not dealt with in a timely manner.  Eliminating water intrusion, leaks and excess humidity will help keep mold from growing.
  • CHECK YOUR HOME FOR LEAD-BASED PAINT IF BUILT BEFORE 1978.  If lead is identified, have a professional help you. Learn more about lead hazards.
  • KEEP ALL COMBUSTION APPLIANCES WELL MAINTAINED as they can be a source of carbon monoxide. This would include: gas stoves, gas hot water heaters, gas furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • INSTALL CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS to guard against this colorless, odorless gas produced by combustion appliances.
  • BE ALERT WHEN VISITING OTHER PEOPLE’S HOMES since they may have many poison hazards that are unsecured throughout the house.
  • DISCARD SYRUP OF IPECAC. It is no longer recommended for you to store Syrup of Ipecac at home. Call the Poison Center!

KEEP THE U.S. NATIONAL POISON CONTROL HOTLINE NUMBER HANDY. 1-800-222-1222. Store this number in your cell phone and post it in your kitchen.