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4 Household Poisons That Might Surprise You

Published on Mar. 17, 2023

If there’s one thing that’s universally true about kids, it’s that they are infinitely curious. And while we parents want to encourage their growing minds to be curious and explore, we always do it with more than a dash of caution. You might not think about it, but the average household is home to a wide variety of products that can be harmful to little explorers. Some products might be obvious, like cleaning products, pesticides, medicines, or alcohol, but others are unexpected.

Here are four surprising household items to consider when child-proofing your home:

  1. Laundry pods/packets: Although these handy pods can’t fold it and put it away, they have made washing the laundry a little less stressful. However, their bright colors and small size can seem very interesting to little eyes and hands. If ingested, laundry pods can be deadly to children, so be sure to put them – and all laundry and cleaning products – up and away, where kids can't reach them.
  2. Hand sanitizers: Over the past several years, gel-based hand sanitizers have become a must-have for mom’s purse and around the house. It’s easy to overlook something that’s supposed to help us stay healthy as being a potential hazard for our kids, but it’s true: hand sanitizers are very dangerous to kids if ingested. Plus, since they’re alcohol-based, they are extremely flammable. If you’ve got a travel-sized bottle in your handbag, be sure to store the bag in a place where kids can’t easily access it. (Bonus: doing this will also keep any medications you store in your purse out of reach for little hands, too!)
  3. Personal care products: Everyday items like mouthwash, lotion and makeup couldn’t possibly be that dangerous to kids, right? Surprisingly, that common belief is very wrong. These products are made to be used by adults as part of a skin or oral health routine, but kids – who often explore the world through taste – might naturally want to put these items in their mouth and swallow them.
  4. Wall paint. This last one might surprise you. Homes built before 1978 may have lead-based paint, which is extremely toxic when ingested (either by breathing in dust generated by a DIY project, or by putting one's mouth on a lead-painted surface). Learn more about lead paint hazards and how to check your house for lead paint from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency >>

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About the Author

Kristina Pasma, BSN, RN, CPSI, is a trauma nurse liaison at Valley Children's Healthcare. She is also the Safe Kids Central California Coalition Coordinator and is passionate about educating children and their families about injury prevention at home and in the community.