Prevent Poisoning in Your Home

3 min read  |  March 09, 2023  | 
Disponible en Español |

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 2 million people report ingestions of potentially toxic substances to poison control centers in the United States every year. Many of these exposures involve children under the age of 19.

Many items in homes can be toxic to young children, such as medications, cleaning products, alcohol, plants, and even cosmetics.

Magnets, button batteries, and laundry packets can also be dangerous if ingested by younger children since they are easy to access. If your child eats one of these, they need medical attention quickly.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have impacted the types of poisonings reported in children and adolescents. There have been more reported poisonings in children from cleaning products, disinfectants, bleach, and hand sanitizer.

Families can prevent these poisonings by using only one cleaner at a time to avoid potentially dangerous reactions between cleaning products. There has also been a notable increase in intentional self-harm, especially in teenage girls.

Securing medications, including over-the-counter products, is critical for keeping teens safe.

Florida’s Poison Control Centers have also received more calls about dietary supplements. Have you or your family members started taking melatonin, vitamin D, or vitamin C to boost your immune system to avoid COVID-19? Be careful because these supplements can be harmful when not taken at the recommended dose.

Please check with your child’s doctor before giving supplements, and make sure to read the packaging and only take them as directed.

Another issue related to poisoning in South Florida has been the legalization of medical cannabis edibles, which has led to more of these products being available in homes with children. In 2022, Florida Poison Centers logged 670 exposures to these products, compared to only 264 two years prior.

If someone in your family is using medical cannabis, make sure to keep it out of reach of children at all times. If anyone is experiencing uncomfortable effects from these medications or has questions about their safety, call 1-800-222-1222.

Most ingestions of poisonous substances occur in the home.

To avoid accidental poisonings, make sure to follow these steps below:

  • Keep all hazardous substances up and away or in a locked cabinet, out of reach of children. You can use locks on high cabinets to help make extra sure kids can’t get to the dangerous items in your home.
  • Make sure items such as medications and household cleaners are always in their original, labeled containers.
  • Medications should always be stored in childproof containers. Remember that visitors to your home might keep medications or other dangerous items in their purses or bags, so make sure those are also out of your kids’ reach.

What should you do if your child does get exposed to poison in your home?

Poison control centers offer help for emergencies involving poisons/medication mistakes, even for adults. A quick call to poison control (1-800-222-1222) can save a family’s trip to the emergency department. Calls are fully confidential — no one gets in trouble for calling poison control.

For more information about keeping your child safe from poisonings in the home, contact the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Miami, a program supported by The Children’s Trust, at 305-243-9080 or

By Kristen Mascarenhas, M.D./M.P.H. candidate at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine with Wendy Stephan, Ph.D., Julie Belkowitz, M.D., M.P.H., Lyse Deus and Oneith Cadiz, M.D.

Originally published on: March 22, 2022

Tags: American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Julie Belkowitz, Dr. Oneith Cadiz, Pediatrics

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