Be Prepared: Household Chemical Emergencies


Chemicals are found all around us, and are a natural part of our environment. They keep our food fresh, help our plants grow and fuel our cars. They also help us to live longer and healthier lives.

Under certain conditions, however, too much of a certain chemical can be extremely harmful.

Most Chemical Accidents occur at home. The accidents can happen by breathing the chemical; swallowing the contaminated food, water, or medication; or touching the chemical.

There are several ways to prepare for a household chemical emergency:
1. Avoid mixing chemicals. Some chemical combinations, such as ammonia and bleach, can create toxic gases.

2. Always read and follow the directions when using new products.

3. Store chemical products properly and only buy as much of a chemical as you think you will use.

4. Clean up any spills immediately being careful to protect your eyes and skin.

5. Dispose of unused chemicals properly. Many household chemicals (such as pesticides, antifreeze, fertilizers, and household cleaners) can be taken to your local household hazardous waste collection facility. Click here for the location of a waste collection facility in Columbus, Ohio.

In Case of Poisoning:
The most common home chemical emergencies involve small children eating medicines. Keep all medicines, cosmetics, cleaning products, and other household products out of the reach of children.

Use child-resistant packaging, but remember that nothing is child proof. Poisons can look like food or drink. Make sure children know to ask an adult before eating or drinking anything.

If someone in your home does eat or drink a nonfood substance, find the container it came out of immediately and take it with you to the phone. Call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) or Emergency Medical Services (EMS) or 9-1-1, or call the operator and tell them exactly what your child ingested.

Follow their instructions carefully. Do not give anything by mouth until you have been advised by medical professionals.

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