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Spring Tips

The following tips are primarily for the spring season, but be aware of them all year round.

As you begin spring cleaning and work on the yard, follow these simple tips to keep your family safe.

Household cleaners and other products

  • Keep household cleaners and potentially poisonous substances in the containers they came in. 
  • Do not use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners and other chemicals or products. 
  • Store strong chemicals away from food. Many poisonings occur when one product is mistaken for another.
  • Read and follow the directions for use of products and their disposal. Do this before using the products. Follow the advice carefully. 
  • Never mix chemicals or household cleaners or detergents. Doing so can create a poisonous gas.
  • Turn on fans and open windows when using chemicals or household cleaners.
  • Never sniff containers to see what is inside.
  • When spraying chemicals, direct spray nozzle away from people and pets.
  • Discard old or outdated products. First aid advice on containers may be incorrect and outdated.
  • Call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222) to double check first aid information.
  • Even in small amounts, windshield wiper fluid is poisonous. If swallowed, it can cause blindness or death to people and pets. Use it carefully to avoid spraying it in someone’s face.
  • Chemicals can burn the skin. Chlorine, drain openers, toilet cleaners, rust removers, and oven cleaners can cause such burns.
  • Liquids made from petroleum, such as gasoline, kerosene, charcoal lighter fluid, paint thinner, baby oil, lamp oil, and furniture polish, are poisonous. Only use gas cans to properly carry and store gasoline.
  • If these items are swallowed, they can easily get into the lungs. Even a small amount can cause breathing problems. The liquid coats the inside of the lungs and prevents oxygen from entering the bloodstream.
  • Tell your children that they should ask a grown-up if they’re not sure if something is dangerous. Tell them to stay away from things used to clean the house, clothes or car.


  • Pesticides (pest killers) can be taken in through the skin or inhaled and can be extremely poisonous. Even leather shoes and gloves do not offer full protection. 
  • Stay away from areas that have been sprayed until the spray has dried or for at least one hour.
  • Wear protective clothing when using bug spray or other spray products. Put on a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, shoes, and gloves. Remove and wash clothing after using chemicals.
  • If pesticides are splashed onto the skin, rinse with running water for 15 to 20 minutes. If pesticide contacts clothing, take off the clothing before rinsing skin.
  • Many garden chemicals are poisonous if swallowed or inhaled by children and adults.


  • Only experts can tell poisonous mushrooms from safe mushrooms.
  • Poisonous mushrooms, called "death caps," often grow in yards and parks.
  • Eating even a few bites of certain mushrooms can cause liver damage that can kill you.

Call for help

Remember, if you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned, immediately call the toll-free Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center.