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Childhood Wellness

Prevent Accidental Poisoning (and Intentional Abuse) in Your Home

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. 

Not a safe high

Unfortunately, as children grow older and become teenagers and young adults, 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 percent 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.

Set the best example

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.

Sara Stickler, Executive Director, Alliance for Consumer Education, [email protected]

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