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11 Ways to Keep Kids Safe

(Some Cheap and Easy and Others Expensive and Difficult)


We all live in a chemical world.  But many of the chemicals in our world are harmful, especially to infants and children.  How can we protect our children from these harmful chemicals in our homes?  Here is some practical advice on how to keep your home non-toxic:

1. Do Not Use Pesticides In The Home Pesticides are chemicals that are designed to kill so they are inherently dangerous and harmful to living beings, especially children.  It is best not to use any pesticides in the home.  It is also best not to use pesticides outside of the home because children play on the lawn and in gardens.  There are alternatives to using pesticides. Vinegar can also be used instead of toxic pesticides to keep ants and other insects away.

2. Keep Infrequently Used Toxic Chemicals Locked Up Outside the HomeBuy a fire safety cabinet (they are made of metal). Place it outside of the house against a wall and secure it to the wall so it can’t tip over.  Put all paints, solvents, gasoline, glues, oil, grease, antifreeze, other car care products, pesticides, and other infrequently used flammable and toxic chemicals in the cabinet.  Put a combination lock on the cabinet and keep it locked at all times.  This will prevent fires, keep toxic chemicals out of children’s reach, and keep them from contaminating the home.

3. Secure Frequently Used Chemicals In Indoor CabinetsKeep all dish and kitchen cleaning products in a cabinet in the kitchen.  Keep all laundry chemicals in a cabinet in the laundry room or area.  Keep all housecleaning chemicals in a cabinet, preferably in the garage.  Use cabinets that are up high, out of the reach of children.  Install locks on these cabinets to keep children out.  If you use magnetic locks, keep the magnets out of the reach of curious children.

4.   Use Less Toxic Cleaning Products. Use baking soda to clean sinks, bathtubs, and toilets.  Use vegetable oil with a little lemon juice to clean wood furniture.  Use vinegar in a pump spray bottle to clean mirrors and chrome; use vinegar or soap and water to clean windows.

5.   Get Rid of Lead-Containing ProductsLead is extremely harmful to children.  Lead often contaminates ceramic dishes, coffee mugs and cups, crockpots and other cookware, and is especially found in glazed products.  Glass and Corningware are much safer choices.  Keys also often contain lead.  Keep these out of infants’ reach so they don’t put them in their mouths.  If you have any leaded crystal or china and want to keep it, make sure it is out of children’s reach.

6.  Get Rid of Plastic Products. Plastic products (especially those made of soft plastic) contain Bisphenol A (BPA).  Get rid of soft plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and soft plastic toys.  Check the recycle number on plastic products; if they have a number 7, they probably contain BPA.  Replace plastic water bottles with stainless steel bottles and replace plastic food storage containers with glass.  Also get rid of plastic products that have a noticeable odor.  If you want to keep a plastic product that has an odor, put it outside for a few days to offgas before using it.

7.  Avoid Using Phthalate-Containing Products. Phthalates are toxic chemicals found in shampoos, conditioners, hair spray, perfumes, cologne, shower curtains, and vinyl coverings.  Avoid using shampoos, conditioners and other personal care products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient.  Phthalates are usually not listed as ingredients on the labels of products that have them.

8. Avoid Using Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the HomePressurized aerosol cans produce a fine mist containing VOCs which pollute indoor air and is easily inhaled.  Avoid using hair spray, furniture sprays, air fresheners, WD-40, and other products in pressurized aerosol cans in the home.  Choose pump spray containers instead of aerosols.  Also, do not idle the car or use gasoline-powered or diesel-powered equipment in an attached garage because VOCs, including carcinogenic benzene, contaminate homes from attached garages.

9. Avoid Formaldehyde-Containing Products. Formaldehyde is a human carcinogen found in pressed wood products such as particle board, plywood, paneling, and fiberboard.  It is also found in glues and adhesives, and durable press fabrics like drapes.  To avoid formaldehyde exposure in the home, replace pressed wood products with solid wood or metal furniture or buy “exterior grade” pressed-wood products which emit formaldehyde at significantly lower levels. If you have wood products containing formaldehyde, increase ventilation, reduce humidity with air conditioning or dehumidifiers, and keep your home cool to minimize formaldehyde offgassing.

10.  Get Rid of Furniture Containing Toxic Flame Retardants. All upholstered furniture and bedding sold in California contains toxic flame retardants to meet flammability standards.  A typical sofa contains several pounds of these toxic chemicals, sofas and mattresses are likely the largest source of toxic chemicals in the home.  Flame retardant chemicals are very toxic to children and contaminate furniture, carpets, and other surfaces which children play on.  Get rid of your upholstered furniture, vacuum the house to remove dust, steam clean your carpets, and buy new furniture for your house that doesn’t contain these harmful chemicals.  You will have to buy bedding and upholstered furniture outside of California and make sure it doesn’t have a Technical Bulletin 117 label on it.  Toxic flame retardants are major toxic hazards because there are pounds of them in our homes, rather than residues, measured in parts per million or billion.  Unfortunately, replacing your furniture and bedding will be costly, difficult, and time-consuming.

11.  Test Your Home for Three Major Toxins. Hire a reputable home testing company to test your home for asbestos, lead, and radon – the three major toxins that contaminate homes and are extremely harmful to children.  If your home is contaminated with any of these toxins, you will need to have your home professionally decontaminated or move your family to a safer home.  It is best to test a home for these three toxins before you buy or rent the home and move into it.