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How to Poison Proof Your Home

Most poisoning accidents happen at home. Young children are at greater risk than adults. They learn about things by putting them in their mouths. They will also eat things that do not taste good. The most common items that children swallow are:

What You Will Need

  • A cabinet that is high enough so that your child cannot reach it or climb up it
  • A childproof lock for the cabinet door
  • A carbon monoxide detector
  • The number of your local emergency medical center

Steps to Take

  1. Keep medicine out of the reach of children.
    • The ones that cause serious harm are iron supplements, heart medicine, cold medicine, and acetaminophen.
    • Make sure all your medicines have childproof caps.
    • Ask guests not to leave medicines where your child can find them.
    • Properly dispose of unused medicine.
  2. Know the names of the plants in and around your home. Remove any poisonous plants from your home and yard.
  3. Keep your child away from household cleaning products.
    • Your child can be poisoned from most cleaning products, such as bleach, toilet cleaners, drain openers, and furniture polish.
    • Keep all cleaning products in a locked cabinet.
  4. Keep common yard, home, and auto chemicals locked away.
    • This may include rodent and insect poisons, paint and paint thinners, antifreeze, and fertilizers.
    • Keep these products in a locked cabinet.
  5. Do not use any toxic products when children are near. Children can quickly get into these products when you are doing something else.
  6. Keep the number for your emergency medical center near your phone.
  7. Keep carbon monoxide monitors in your home to protect all members of your family from poisoning. If the alarm goes off, get everyone outside to fresh air.
  8. Be careful when you visit the homes of other people. Poisons may be within easy reach of your child.

Common Questions

Q. Which plants are poisonous?

A. Many plant poisonings only cause mild problems. Plants that may cause serious or deadly problems are lily of the valley, foxglove, sweet peas, and rhubarb leaves. If you are unsure, call for emergency medical help to find out whether a plant is safe.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor or emergency medical center if you:

  • Think your child or any other family member may have swallowed poison
  • Find your young child with an open container of a household material. Assume your child has been poisoned.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics


About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children

Health Canada


Parent teaching: teaching parents about preventing accidental poisoning in children. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated December 22, 2017. Accessed July 18, 2019.

Poison proof your home. Department of Health & Human Services. Available at: http://poisonhelp.hrsa.gov/what-can-you-do/poison-proof-your-home/index.html. Accessed July 18, 2019.

Poisoning prevention. National Safety Council website. Available at: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/safety-at-home-poisoning.aspx. Accessed July 18, 2019.

Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardKari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 10/23/2019