Poison Prevention

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Is your home safe? Are you aware of the many items in the home that may be poisonous if not used for the intended purpose? A poison is any substance that can harm someone if it is used in the wrong way, by the wrong person or in the wrong amount.

It is important to educate ourselves about poisons. Most poison related incidents are accidental and accidental poisoning can happen at any age. For children under the age of six, poisonings happen as they explore products around the home. Misuse of products also affects children six to 18 year olds and even adults. Many aren’t aware that household cleaning products can be harmful. The elderly many times take the wrong medicine or wrong amount of medicine.

What Can Families Do To Prevent Poisoning?

  • Store cleaning and laundry products out of the reach of children.
  • Use cabinet locks or safety latches if products are stored in lower cabinets.
  • Always leave products in their original containers. If a solution is mixed for cleaning, label the container.
  • Never refer to medicine as candy or food. Make sure child resistant containers are tightly closer.
  • Be aware of poison look-a-likes. Many candies, beverages and other food products are in packaging resembling common medicines and cleaning products. There are several candies that look like medicines — Sudafed and red hots (candy). Beverage containers and cleaning products looks are similar — blue Gatorade and window cleaner; apple juice and Pine Sol, etc.
  • Keep the Poison Center number 1-800-222-1222 posted in your home and programmed in mobile phones.

Know and teach children the meaning of DANGER, WARNING and CAUTION. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) refers to these as SIGNAL words:

Caution: Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Warning: May be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Also indicates products can easily catch on fire.

Danger: Fatal if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Also used on products that could explode if they get hot.

Home Checklist

The Regional Poison Center provides the following check list for homes. There are items in each room of our homes that can be poisonous if used in the wrong way. Check your home and make sure these items are out of the reach of children and stored properly:


  • Camphor
  • Cleaners and deodorizers
  • Drugs and medicine
  • Hair removers
  • Mouthwash
  • Nail products
  • Shampoo/hair products
  • Rubbing alcohol


  • Antiseptics
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Disinfectants
  • Drain cleaners
  • Durniture polish
  • Oven cleaner
  • Plant food
  • Vitamins/iron pills
  • Window cleaner


  • Birth control pills
  • Cologne/perfume
  • Mothballs
  • Pain killers
  • Sleeping medications


  • Ammonia
  • Bleach
  • Cleaning fluids
  • Fabric softener


  • Antifreeze
  • Gasoline
  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides
  • Kerosene
Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

Used here with permission. Originally published by Bartos as a PDF for Nebraska Extension.

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