Preparing for Household Chemical Emergencies

Phone Number for Poison Control: 800-222-1222

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A chemical emergency can take place in any household, at any time. In 2019, these were over 2,100,000 poison exposures across the United States - with a poisonous exposure being reported roughly every 15 seconds.

Quick Thinking Father

On a sunny day in 2012, a new father was home alone with his toddler. It only took a moment for the child to come across laundry detergent and bite open a pod. Thanks to quick thinking and action, the child was able to make a recovery and survived the incident.

He was taken to the hospital and the poison control experts were able to help him out. It's unfortunate how many house-hold chemical accidents happen.

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Tide Pod Challenge

In late 2017, there was an unfortunately popular challenge that emerged; the Tide Pod Challenge. There have only been less than 10 reported deaths from consuming laundry pods - with thousands injured. Laundry pods are unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg.

Preparing for a Household Chemical Emergency

It’s important to know how to use and store chemicals safely in your home - especially if you are a new parent. Accidents can happen no matter what you do, which is why it’s important to do everything you can to keep yourself and your children safe and well informed.

Keep cleaning products and other potentially hazardous materials out of reach of children, like in a cabinet with a safety lock or somewhere up high. It’s also important that all containers are properly closed after use.
Household Chemical Emergencies Preparedness Plan – Activity List
You should always have a plan to keep yourself and your children safe - that means being ready to spring into action at any time. Before an emergency even takes place, take the proper precautions.

  • Keep potentially hazardous products somewhere children cannot reach them and pets cannot chew on them
  • Close containers after you are finished using a product
  • Avoid storing certain products close to fire or other heat sources
  • Only use potentially harmful products for their intended purpose
  • Do not store hazardous products and chemicals near or with food and water
  • Do not mix any chemicals or cleaners
  • Dispose of any hazardous materials properly
  • Clean any chemical spills up immediately
  • Know the number for poison control: 800-222-1222
  • Know the route and number of your nearest emergency vet
  • Leave your home in the event a chemical-based fire breaks out or your home is filled with toxic fumes

If an accident happens despite your efforts, it’s important that you don’t panic. Stay calm and follow our recommendations.

  • Determine what has happened - has someone inhaled or consumed a toxic chemical?
  • If someone has inhaled fumes or consumed a household chemical, call the national poison control center
  • If a pet has ingested a type of poison, call your vet and get them to an animal hospital as soon as possible
  • Listen to and follow the emergency operator’s instructions carefully when on the phone with poison control
  • If a fire has broken out, get upwind and avoid inhaling any toxic fumes
  • If noxious fumes have filled your home, get out of the house as soon as possible

However, you cannot be everywhere at once - and cannot always keep an eye on everyone in your home. How can you tell if someone has been poisoned by ingesting a household chemical?

Learn to recognize the signs of poisonings and teach your children that cleaners are not toys or food. The victim may have been poisoned if they experience the following symptoms.

  • Changes in skin color (excluding tans)
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irritation of the skin, throat, eyes, or respiratory tract
  • Dizziness, lack of coordination, and general clumsiness
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea

If you suspect that an animal has ingested poison, look for the following symptoms. Remember that various foods meant for human consumption can poison dogs, cats, and ferrets.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble breathing
  • Increased exhaustion or unconsciousness

If you’re sure that your child, pet, or another member of your household has ingested a chemical or other poison, do not wait for symptoms to show up. Call poison control or transport them to a hospital immediately.

Which household chemicals are dangerous?

You may find yourself wondering what could be potentially harmful in your home. It could be things you use every day, and other things that you may have forgotten about in a cabinet or garage.

  • Bleach
  • Aerosol cans, such as deodorant and hairsprays
  • Pesticides and other poisons
  • Cleaning products, including all-purpose cleaners, oven cleaners, and furniture polish
  • Laundry detergents - including pods
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Batteries
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Mercury thermometers
  • Paint thinners
  • Turpentine
  • Antifreeze
  • Motor oil
  • Lighter fluid

It’s important that all potentially harmful chemicals are stored in the appropriate places. Instructions for storing various products should be on the bottles, boxes, or manufacturer’s website.

Emergency Gear to Prepare for Household Chemical Emergencies

The gear you'll need to survive. The gear you'll need for evacuation is exactly the same as what you might need when you're staying home to weather out the storm.

  1. 72-hour kit or go Bag - your individual kit should have clothing, gear and supplies for 3-10 days minium
  2. Food Storage - Take a long food from your long term food storage

You may not think you need an emergency kit for household chemical emergencies - after all, most of the time it’s just a matter of calling poison control or going to the hospital, right?

That’s where you would be wrong. Chemical emergencies can also result in fires and other unsafe living environments which may result in you and your family having to leave your home to seek temporary shelter. For that reason, we will lay down guidelines for assembling two separate emergency kits.

For evacuations and taking temporary shelter, pack the following, and feel free to customize it to your needs.

  • A charged phone
  • Enough water for each member of your household - including pets
  • Non-perishable food items
  • A can opener
  • A change of clothes for everyone in your household
  • Cash
  • Pet care items
  • Infant care items
  • Pads and tampons
  • A cell phone
  • A phone charger
  • A fully charged power bank
  • Copies of important documents on a flash drive
  • Comfort items for you and your children
  • Any medications you or your family may take

Meanwhile, if you or a loved one needs to stay overnight in the hospital, it’s a good idea to prepare an overnight bag. For an overnight bag, you should pack the following.

  • A change of clothes
  • A book or magazine
  • A toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • A cell phone
  • A phone charger
  • A fully charged power bank
  • A comfort item for the affected person
  • Non Skid slippers
  • Hairbrush or comb

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2 As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
3 Most reviews are based on personal experience from one of our content editors. Some are based on research and the opinions of other reviewers.


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