Household Poisons

Most poison exposures occur in the home. Everyday household items can quickly turn poisonous when used by the wrong person in the wrong way. Batteries, laundry packets, cleaners and personal care products can cause harm when ingested, inhaled, or spilled or splashed on the skin or in the eyes. Read on to learn about some of the hazards to be aware of and be prepared by programming the poison center number in your phone in case of emergency 1-800-222-1222.

Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Personal care products like toothpaste are a common exposure for children under age 6
Personal care products like toothpaste are not poisonous in small quantities but may be irritating to the mouth and stomach if ingested.

Pediatric exposures to cosmetics and personal care products are the number one reason for calls to the poison center for children under age six. We get calls for everything from creams and toothpaste to deodorant, hand sanitizer and perfume. These products are typically ingested because they are readily available throughout the house. Because of their frequent use, they may not always be safely put away. Many of these items smell good, or are packaged in attractive bottles and containers. Children are careful observers and may be trying to mimic your behaviors by exploring the items you use every day.

Safety Tips to Prevent Exposures:

  • Keep items in their original package, bottle, or container to prevent mix-ups.
  • Store these items up and away and out of reach of children every time after use.
  • Use a lockable cabinet or child-resistant lock to secure the cabinet.
  • Teach children not to touch, taste or smell a product unless given by an adult.
  • Program the poison center number in your phone to be prepared for a poison emergency 1-800-222-1222.

Household Cleaners

Almost anything can be poisonous if used in the wrong way, in the wrong amount, or by the wrong person. Household cleaners and disinfectants contain powerful ingredients to clean our environments and keep our homes healthy. They should be handled with care in order to prevent exposure to fumes, spills and splashes, and accidental ingestion. Safe storage and handling of household cleaners and chemicals can protect you and your family from injury associated with exposure.

Safety Tips to Prevent Accidental Exposures:

  • Store household cleaners up, away, and out of reach of children.
  • Always follow directions for use on the product's label. 
  • Always store household cleaners separately from food and drink.
  • Teach children not to touch, taste or smell cleaners or anything that they have not been given by a trusted adult.
  • Keep cleaners in their original container. Repackaging and container transfer can lead to mix-ups and accidental exposures.
  • Never put cleaning products or disinfectants in beverage containers, cups or bottles. This can lead to accidental consumption. 
  • Ensure adequate ventilation when using cleaning products by opening windows and doors.
  • Never mix products together. Some combinations can be dangerous.
  • Wear gloves and goggles when handling harsh cleaners like oven cleaners, bleach and drain cleaners to protect skin and eyes. Refer to the product's label for protective equipment recommendations. 

Household & Cleaning Product "Look-A-Likes"

Many household cleaning products and disinfectants are "lookalikes," or look like food and drinks commonly found in the home. They can be difficult to tell apart especially if the label is missing or the product has been poured into another container like a cup. Some of these products are brightly colored and packaged in a similar container to their lookalike counterpart. They may smell nice and or have a sweet taste which may not deter a child (or adult) from consuming it. The poison center receives calls about BOTH children and adults who have been exposed to these products accidentally. Be on the look out for these types of products and follow our safety tips to protect your loved ones. If you suspect a poisoning, don't take a chance. Call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a poison specialist. 

Household cleaners look alike. Safe storage can prevent accidental exposures.
Commonly found beverages, cleaners and personal care products in the home may look alike. Store them separately to prevent mix-ups.
Food and cleaners can look alike, especially to small children who can't read. Store them safely.
Young children who don't yet read may not be able to tell the difference between products like these. Make sure household cleaners are stored up and away and out of reach of children.
Make sure food and cleaners are stored separately to prevent mix-ups.
In this lookalike example, all these blue liquids look similar. Keep liquids in their original container to prevent accidental exposure.

Liquid Laundry Packets

Liquid laundry packets can be toxic for children
Liquid laundry packets can be hazardous for children. Keep them up and away and out of reach of children.

Liquid laundry packets may be convenient for laundry day but their compact size, candy-like appearance and colorful shape make them attractive to curious children. The poison center receives calls about pediatric exposures every year. Swallowing laundry detergent can cause mild to severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. Liquid laundry packets may burst and cause injury to the mouth, throat, face or eyes if a child bites it. Consumer reports no longer recommends using liquid laundry packets if you have children younger than six years old in your home. If using liquid laundry packets, consider these safety tips to keep your loved ones safe.

Laundry Packet Safety Tips:

  • Always keep detergents locked up high and out of reach of children.
  • Always keep the product in its original package and keep the package closed.
  • Call the poison center if you think a child has been exposed a liquid laundry packet 1-800-222-1222.

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Dangers of Button Batteries

Button batteries are the flat, disc - like batteries found in many household devices including mini remote controls, small calculators, watches, key fobs, flameless candles, and musical greeting cards. They also come in many children's toys including "talking" or musical books. When a child swallows a button battery, the salivia triggers an electrical current. This causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours.

Download button battery safety tips from Safe Kids Worldwide.

Button Battery Safety Tips:

  • Always keep loose batteries locked away.
  • Keep small battery operated devices out of reach of children.
  • Place a piece of duct tape over controller or devices to secure batteries.
  • Call the poison center immediately if you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery 1-800-222-1222.
Button batteries can be found in small electronics, remote controls, activity trackers and other battery-operated devices.
Button batteries can be found in small electronics and remote controls. Store them safely by keeping them out of reach of children.