Todd Jerome Jenkins, MS, CSP, SMS, CHST, STSC

Safety Aficionado & Ph.D. Student

Poison Prevention: Understanding the Importance of Keeping Your Family Safe

When protecting your family, there are many things to consider. One important consideration that often goes overlooked is the prevention of accidental poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the United States. An estimated 90% of these deaths are preventable. This article will explore the importance of poison prevention and provide tips on keeping your family safe.

Understanding the Dangers of Poisoning

Poisoning can occur in various ways, including ingesting toxic substances, inhaling poisonous gases or fumes, and even absorbing toxic substances through the skin. Some common causes of poisoning include:

Household cleaners and chemicals

  • Medications, both prescription and over the counter
  • Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas
  • Lead, a toxic metal found in some old paint, toys, and other household items
  • Pesticides and other chemicals used in gardening and agriculture

Poisoning symptoms can vary depending on the type and amount of the toxic substance involved. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

Fatal Statistics from the CDC

Poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the United States, accounting for over 64,000 deaths in 2019.

Overdose deaths involving opioids accounted for 49,860 of these poisoning deaths.

Poisoning deaths involving carbon monoxide accounted for 324 deaths in 2019.

Children under six are at the highest risk for unintentional poisoning.

Preventing Poisoning in Your Home

Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to prevent accidental poisoning in your home. Here are some tips to get you started:

Keep toxic substances out of reach. Store cleaning products, medications, and other toxic substances out of the reach of children and pets. Use child-proof locks on cabinets if necessary.

Properly label all toxic substances. Ensure all toxic substances are properly labeled and stored in their original containers.

Dispose of toxic substances properly. Don’t flush medications down the toilet or pour them down the sink. Follow the instructions on the label for proper disposal. You can also check with your local pharmacy or waste disposal facility for information on safely disposing of medications and other toxic substances.

Install carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly if inhaled in high concentrations. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home to alert you to dangerous levels.

Test for lead. If you live in an older home, test for lead in the paint and water supply. Lead can cause serious health problems, especially in young children.

Be careful when using pesticides. If you use pesticides in your garden or home, read the instructions carefully and follow them closely. Wear protective clothing and keep pets and children away from treated areas.

Educate yourself and your family. Make sure that everyone in your household understands the risks of poisoning and knows how to prevent it. Teach children not to put anything in their mouths that they find on the ground or in the home.


Accidental poisoning is a serious and often preventable problem. By taking the necessary steps to keep toxic substances out of reach, properly labeling and disposing of them, and educating your family about the risks, you can significantly reduce the risk of poisoning in your home. Remember, prevention is key to keeping your family safe from accidental poisoning.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Poisoning Statistics.

American Association of Poison Control Centers. (2021). National Poison Data System (NPDS): Annual Reports.

World Health Organization. (2021). Preventing Poisoning.

National Safety Council. (2021). Poisoning.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Poisoning Prevention.

Safe Kids Worldwide. (2021). Poison Prevention.

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