Just about every household contains some kind of chemicals – bleach, the dog’s flea and tick shampoo, that jug of windshield washer fluid.

The key is to be aware of potential poison hazards and take precautions against accidents, especially when kids are in the house. We all know accidents can happen so quickly. Storing and handling chemicals safely not only reduces the risk of injury but also could prevent illness or even death.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, poison centers field more than 3.6 million calls annually. Further, the American Association of Poison Centers estimated kids younger than age 6 account for roughly half the calls to the centers, and other poison centers data suggested more than 146,000 calls to poison centers involved worries about exposure to common household pesticides.

With National Poison Prevention Week set for March 18-24, now is the perfect time to put measures in place to protect your family from possible poison hazards.

As an easy first step, consider where and how chemicals are stored in your home. Specifically, make sure pesticides and household chemicals, cleaners and chlorine bleach are kept out of the reach of children.

A lot of people may store household chemicals such as kitchen and bath disinfectants under the sink. Actually, the safest option is to store these chemicals in a locked cabinet or outdoor shed, out of reach of kids and pets.

It also is important to never store chemicals and pesticides in containers such as soda bottles or milk jugs, which kids could confuse for food or drink.

Before using any chemical or pesticide, read the label to ensure you know how to properly apply it. Whether you are indoors or outdoors, be sure children and pets, as well as their toys, bottles and pacifiers, are clear of the area you are treating.

Never leave chemicals and pesticides unattended while you’re using them. If you get interrupted, close the container and set it out of reach of kids until you can return to it. Check the label to determine when children and pets can resume using the treated space.

Finally, in case of an accident or if you suspect someone has been poisoned, call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate help from a local poison expert. As another precaution, post the help number near each phone in the house and program it into your cell phone.

For more information about ways to prevent poisonings, contact your local county Extension office.