Prevent Pesticide Poisoning at Home

March 18-24 was National Poison Prevention Week. While our blog post may be tardy, it's never too late to raise awareness about the risks associated with using pesticides and how to protect yourself and your family from accidental poisoning.

Pesticides are any substance used to kill, repel, or deter unwanted organisms, including insects, spiders, weeds, plant diseases, or animal pests such as rodents. In most situations, effective nonchemical options exist to control pests. However, if you decide to use a pesticide, please consider the following tips:

  • Consider using pesticides in bait stations and gels instead of sprays to reduce pesticide exposure.
  • Learn about the potential hazards of a pesticide on the UC IPM Pesticide Active Ingredients Database.
  • Follow the instructions on the pesticide label. The label contains important information about safety and hazards.
  • Wear personal protective equipment such as goggles, close-toed shoes, and chemical-resistant gloves when using any type of pesticide, including weed killers (herbicides).
  • Remove children, their toys, and pets from an area before applying any pesticides, even organic or "natural" ones.
  • Never store pesticides in food or drink containers. Frequent cases of pesticide poisoning involve children or adults who drink from these containers and become sick or die.
  • Seal pesticide containers tightly after use.
  • Store pesticides in a locked cabinet away from children.
  • Post the Poison Control Centers' national helpline number, 1-800-222-1222.

Read more about using, storing, and disposing of pesticides safely in Pest Notes: Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides in the Home and Landscape. You can also find a variety of other sources of pesticide information for both home users and professional pesticide applicators on the UC IPM Pesticide Information pages.

For information about nonchemical options for managing many different types of pests, see the UC IPM website covering home, garden, turf and landscape pests.