Nearly every household uses products containing
hazardous materials or chemicals.
• Drain cleaners
• Wood and metal
cleaners and polishes
• Toilet cleaners
• Tub, tile, shower cleaners
• Bleach (laundry)
• Pool chemicals
sprays and baits
• Cockroach sprays and baits
• Flea repellents and shampoos
• Bug sprays
• Houseplant insecticides
• Moth repellents
• Mouse and rat poisons
• Fuel additives
• Carburetor and fuel
• Air conditioning refrigerants
• Starter fl uids
• Automotive batteries
• Transmission and brake fl uid
• Furniture strippers
• Oil- or enamel-based paint
• Stains and fi nishes
• Paint thinners and turpentine
• Paint strippers and removers
• Photographic chemicals
• Fixatives and other solvents
Lawn and Garden Products
• Fungicides/wood preservatives
• Mercury thermostats or thermometers
• Fluorescent light bulbs
• Driveway sealer
Other Flammable Products
• Propane tanks
and other compressed gas cylinders
• Home heating oil
• Diesel fuel
• Gas/oil mix
• Lighter fluid
Although the risk of a chemical accident
is slight, knowing how to handle these
products and how to react during an emergency
can reduce the risk of injury.
Before a Household
The following are guidelines for buying
and storing hazardous household chemicals
Buy only as much of a chemical
as you think you will use. Leftover material
can be shared with neighbors or donated
to a business, charity, or government
agency. For example, excess pesticide
could be offered to a greenhouse or garden
center, and theater groups often need
surplus paint. Some communities have
organized waste exchanges where household
hazardous chemicals and waste can be
swapped or given away.
Keep products containing hazardous
materials in their original containers
and never remove the labels unless the container
is corroding. Corroding containers should
be repackaged and clearly labeled.
- Never store hazardous products in
Never mix household hazardous chemicals
or waste with other products.
Incompatibles, such as chlorine
bleach and ammonia, may react,
ignite, or explode.
Take the following precautions to
prevent and respond to accidents:
- Follow the manufacturer’s
instructors for the proper use of the
- Never smoke while using household
Never use hair spray, cleaning solutions,
paint products, or pesticides
near an open flame (e.g., pilot light, lighted candle,
fireplace, wood burning stove,
etc.) Although you may not be able to see or smell them,
vapor particles in the air
could catch fire or explode.
Clean up any chemical spill immediately.
Use rags to clean up the spill.
Wear gloves and eye protection. Allow the fumes in the
rags to evaporate outdoors,
then dispose of the rags by wrapping them in a newspaper
and placing them in a sealed
plastic bag in your trash can.
Dispose of hazardous materials correctly.
Take household hazardous waste
to a local collection program. Check with your county
or state environmental or solid
waste agency to learn if there is a household hazardous
waste collection program in your
Learn to recognize the symptoms of toxic
poisoning, which are as follows:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Irritation of the eyes, skin, throat,
or respiratory tract.
- Changes in skin color.
- Headache or blurred vision.
- Clumsiness or lack of coordination.
- Cramps or diarrhea.
Be prepared to seek medical assistance:
Post the number of the emergency medical
services and the poison control center by
all telephones. In an emergency situation,
you may not have time to look up critical
phone numbers. The national poison control
number is (800)222-1222.
During a Household
If there is a danger of fire or explosion:
If someone has been exposed to a household
There are probably many hazardous materials
throughout your home. Take a tour
of your home to see where these materials
are located. Use the list of common
hazardous household items presented
earlier to guide you in your hunt.
Once you have located a product,
check the label and take the necessary
steps to ensure that
you are using, storing, and disposing
of the material according to the manufacturer’s
directions. It is critical to store
household chemicals in places where
children cannot access them. Remember
that products such as aerosol cans
of hair spray and deodorant, nail polish
and nail polish remover, toilet bowl
cleaners, and furniture polishes all
fall into the category of hazardous
If you require more information about
any of these topics, the following are
resources that may be helpful.
Materials: A Guide for Citizens. IS 55.
An independent study resource
for parents and teachers. Web-based safety
program focused on reducing the number
of deaths and injuries in the home. Available
online at FEMA - Household Hazardous Materials: A Guide for Citizens.
Emergencies. FEMA website hightening
awareness of chemical hazards in the home,
identifying common hasards, what do do before a household chemical emergnecy, and what to do during a household chemical emergency visit Household Chemical Emergency - at FEMA.gov.
Hazardous Materials. 0.511. Information
sheet available online at FEMA - Backgrounder: Hazardous Materials
Factsheet: Baby-sitters Make the Right
Call to EMS. 0510. Available
online at FEMA - Are You Ready? - Household Chemical Emergencies
American Red Cross
Extensive document describing the hazards
of household chemicals and what to do in
an emergency. Available online at American Red Cross - Chemical Emergencies