Tips: Prevent Poisonings In The Home

According to the national nonprofit, Home Safety Council, accidental poisoning is the second leading cause of home injury death in the United States. Yet, a new survey by the council found that only one percent of U.S. adults ranked poisoning at the top of the list when asked to identify their leading home safety concern, proving the need for aggressive home poisoning prevention education.

The nationwide Safe Haven survey was commissioned by the Home Safety Council to gauge the public's perceptions and actions related to the top home injury dangers. Poison-related findings also show that less that one-fifth (18 percent) of U.S. adults have put safety locks on cabinets or have posted the Poison Control Help number near phones -- two of the key actions recommended by the Home Safety Council to reduce the risk and severity of poisoning injuries.

"Perhaps the most important finding from the Safe Haven research is that parents and other caregivers aren't doing nearly enough to protect themselves and their families from serious home poison dangers," said Dr. Angela Mickalide, Director of Education and Outreach for the Home Safety Council. "Poison Prevention Month is a helpful reminder for all of us to take action against this major health problem."

The most critical actions the Home Safety Council recommends taking now are to: read product labels and lock away those with the words "Caution," "Warning," or "Danger" on the label; keep dangerous products away from food and drinks; properly use and maintain fueled appliances; install a Carbon Monoxide alarm near sleeping areas; and put the Poison Control Help number (1-800-222-1222) and other emergency numbers next to every phone and store them in cell phones directories.

With their naturally curious behavior and tendency to put anything within reach in their mouths, young children are at greatest risk for poisoning exposure at home. In fact, children under age five experience the highest rate of nonfatal poison exposures at home compared to any other age group. However, home-related poisoning incidents occur across all age groups, making active prevention essential for all. Unintentional poisoning deaths may result from taking too many types of prescription drugs at the same time and/or in too high of a dose. Following the Home Safety Council's poisoning prevention advice is a way for everyone to stay safer from poisonous and toxic products, chemicals and gases -- regardless of age.

Poisons may be found in any room of the home, but are most commonly located under the kitchen sink, in the bathroom and in storage areas including the garage, basement and laundry room. The Home Safety Council recommends that adults conduct a home walk-through, looking in every room and paying careful attention to the rooms where harmful products are most commonly stored.


  • For homes where young children live or visit: put child safety locks on cabinets to safely store chemicals, cleaners, medicines, cosmetics and other toxic and/or caustic products.
  • When using harsh products follow safety recommendations on the label, such as wearing gloves and masks. Do not mix products together because their contents could react together with dangerous results.
  • Store all dangerous products away from food and drinks. Be especially aware of products with fruit shown on the labels, which could be confused as being edible.
  • Post the Poison Control Help number (1-800-222-1222) and other emergency numbers near every phone and store them to your cell phone. Call the Help number if you have a question about poisons.
  • Call 9-1-1 if someone won't wake up, is having trouble breathing or is having seizures. If the person seems okay, but you think they may have taken poison call 1-800-222-1222.


  • Make sure that medications, including vitamins, prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs, have child-resistant caps.
  • Keep each family member's medicines in a separate place, so they don't get mixed up. Carefully measure doses and track medicine given/received.
  • Discard outdated prescriptions properly and keep them locked out of reach of curious teenagers and young adults.
  • For homes where young children live or visit: put child safety locks on cabinets to safely store chemicals, cleaners, medicines, cosmetics and other toxic and/or caustic products.
  • Keep medicines and cleaning products in their original containers with the original labels intact.
  • Read the labels of the products you use in your home. Buy products with child safety caps. If the label has the words "Caution," "Warning," "Danger" or "Poison," the product can be harmful. Store these products in a safe place using child safety locks.

Garage & Storage Areas, including Basements, Laundry Rooms and Outdoor Sheds

  • Chemicals, fuels (such as gasoline), car fluids (such as anti-freeze), pesticides (such as bug killers), and lawn and garden products (such as fertilizer) are poison.
  • Keep products in their original containers. Close the lid and put all dangerous products away after using them.
  • Store dangerous products where children cannot reach them; use locks on cabinets.
  • Close and put away dangerous products after using them.
  • Clean up spills as soon as they happen.
  • Never run a motor or vehicle engine inside an attached garage, even with the door open, as deadly carbon monoxide can enter your home this way.
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