household chemicals - icon graphic of household cleaning bottles

Dealing with Household Chemicals

Jim Bauer Safety Tips

household chemicals - icon graphic of household cleaning bottles

If you are like many people, you are probably storing a lot of household chemicals in your home, garage, and shed. When properly stored, used, and disposed of, household chemicals usually do not pose a threat. However, when they aren’t, you may have a dangerous situation on your hands that could jeopardize your health or be an environmental hazard. To avoid a potentially serious problem, take a moment to review some household chemical safety tips.

Know What You Have

The first step is to take an inventory of what types of household chemicals you have that could pose a risk. These products can be categorized into:

  • Health and beauty products
  • Household cleaners
  • Laundry products
  • Automotive fluids
  • Lawn and garden products
  • Grilling products
  • Paint and varnish

While many of the household chemicals you have may seem perfectly safe, some could be dangerous if misused or stored improperly. For example, a can of hairspray might seem completely harmless, but if you use it or store it near an open flame, it can ignite or explode.

Look for Clues on Product Labels

When using a household chemical, make sure to review the information on its label. Keywords to look for include:

  • Flammable
  • Combustible
  • Poison
  • Toxic
  • Irritant
  • Warning
  • Danger

These keywords are there to alert you that the product could be potentially dangerous and that you need to exercise household chemical safety. Completely read the directions on how the product should be used, stored, and disposed of when the container is empty or if leftover product remains.

Avoid Stockpiling

It can be tempting to stockpile household chemicals that you use regularly. However, you run the risk of these products degrading if you do not use them quickly. It is a good idea to purchase only the amount that you’ll use right away. If you do find yourself with extra household chemicals, ask friends or community organizations if they can use them.

Keep Away from Children and Pets

Some household chemicals can be attractive to children and pets because of their bright colors or sweet smell. It’s important to put household chemicals out of reach of children and pets. It might be necessary to lock up household chemicals to keep them out of sight and out of mind. Once your children are old enough to understand the potential dangers of certain household chemicals, make sure that you teach them how to use them correctly.

Always Store in Original Containers

When you purchase a household chemical, it comes in a container that has been selected because it is compatible with the chemical. Keep your household chemicals in their original containers whenever possible, and if you must put them in another container, make sure to label the container. Don’t use containers that previously held food or drinks as that could cause confusion about what is in the container.

Store Household Chemicals in a Suitable Area

Keep household chemicals away from food items. If a chemical leaks, it could contaminate your food.

Store:

  • Flammable liquids and gasses in their original containers away from open flames and heat
  • Gas cans and lighter fluid for grills in a shed or a garage
  • Automotive fluids or cleaners in a garage

Making sure to keep a list of emergency phone numbers near your phone in case of accidental poisoning or contamination is an important step to ensure household chemical safety.

Under the Sink Storage

The area under the sink can get chaotic. Use these tips to control the clutter and safely store chemicals.