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Prevent Accidental Poisoning (and Intentional Abuse) in Your Home

The following article was published in the June 2017 USA Today Childhood Safety Campaign

You’ve got the Poison Control number stored in your smart phone and on a magnet on your refrigerator-What else can you do to help prevent accidental poisonings in the home? How do you prevent those accidents from becoming intentional abuse as your children grow older? 

Household product labels are important and provide critical information on how to correctly use and store the products. It’s important to read them, even if it’s a product you’ve been using for years.  Follow the instructions and make sure to store products in a safe place, out of the reach of children. It’s also important to have frank and frequent conversations with your young children about what’s safe to taste and sniff and what’s not. Having these conversations with your kids from a young age and modeling correct product use are two ways to help prevent accidents in the home. 

As children grow older and become teenagers and young adults, unfortunately, accidental poisonings can turn into intentional abuse of household products. Through friends at school and videos online, tweens and young teens are led to believe that inhaling or “huffing” one of the over 1,400 products in and around the home can be a “safe high.” This false belief has led to the tragic loss of many young teens. 

Inhalant abuse, or the intentional misuse and abuse of products for getting high, is preventable. It’s important to remember that reading the label and having safety conversations with your children does not stop once your toddler is grown. A child is 50% less likely to abuse a product if a parent talks to them about the dangers of abuse. As your child grows, transition your conversations from what is and is not safe to taste and sniff, to why huffing can be dangerous.

Remember, household products provide benefits to our daily lives and are essential in keeping our homes clean, healthy and safe. Accidents can happen, so set an example for your child by reading the label, following label directions and having frequent conversations about the correct use and storage of these products. Don’t stop talking to your children as they grow; having the difficult conversations about inhalant abuse can save their lives.

For tips on talking with your teens about inhalant abuse visit    


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