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Know Your Poison – Safeguard Your Home

Monday, January 14, 2013 3:09 PM

It’s easy to overlook the potential dangers that everyday products in our home may have on our health. We get used to storing cleaning supplies in lower cabinets, leaving toothpaste out within reach and letting our medicine cabinets fill up—often not thinking about the potential risks many of these products can pose to our families. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the vast majority (nearly 90%) of all exposures occur at home.

Jerrold Leikin, MD, Medical Toxicologist at NorthShore, provides a short list of some of the most dangerous household products and things that lead to exposure:

  • Cleaning supplies – Some of the most common offenders include: dishwasher detergent, bathroom cleaners, bleach and ammonia-based cleaners
  • Cosmetics – Perfume, nail polish remover, mouthwash and aftershave
  • Plants – It is not recommended to ingest any type of household plant, but the following may cause more extreme reactions: mistletoe, ivy, iris, holly, daffodil, etc. For a full list of poisonous plants, visit the Poison Center’s website.
  • Drugs – Prescription and over-the-counter medications, including sunscreen, lotions and insect repellents

Dr. Leikin recommends the following to help reduce your risk of exposure:

  • Use labels to mark which products are a poison danger.
  • Store products out of the reach of children and pets, and/or lock cabinets.
  • Discard unused items. Rather than stock up on cleaners and medications, only buy what you need to use. This will help limit the amount of potentially hazardous items in your home.
  • Install a carbon monoxide and smoke detector in your home. If you already have these in your home, check them frequently to be sure they are working.  It is also a good idea to regularly check that all gas appliances are in working order.

If you or someone you know has been exposed to a poison, call the Illinois Poison Center immediately at 1.800.222.1222. For more information about poison prevention and exposures, visit the NorthShore Medical Toxicology website.

How do you safeguard your home to reduce poison exposure?