Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment

5.2.9 Prevention and Management of Toxic Substances Use and Storage of Toxic Substances

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 1/12/2017 and 1/31/2023.

Programs should use the following items only in the way the manufacturer recommends, and store them away from children in the labeled, child-proof container they came in:1–3

  • Cleaning materials
    • Detergents (in all forms, including pods)
    • Automatic dishwasher detergents (liquid or solid, including pods)
    • Aerosol cans
    • Paints, solvents, paint removers
    • Floor polish or stripper, furniture polish
    • Liquid soap, hand sanitizers, disinfectants
    • Pesticides
    • Health and beauty products
    • Lawn care chemicals
  • Medications/Substances
    • Medications (prescription and over-the-counter)
    • Marijuana –medical and recreational
      • all forms, including oils, liquids, and edible products and equipment
    • Liquid nicotine and tobacco products
    • Alcohol
  • Other toxic materials

Many of the chemicals and toxic substances listed above will not be found in child care centers. Many of these items may be present in small and large family child care homes. In states that allow recreational or medicinal marijuana, use extra care to store edible marijuana products securely¾and away from other foods and from the children’s medications¾to avoid accidentally giving them to children or children finding and ingesting them. State regulations usually require these products to be clearly labeled as an intoxicating substance and to be stored in the tamper-proof, child-resistant package they came in. In an early childhood program that takes place in a family home, keep all edible, adult medications, including nicotine, marijuana products and other substances, in a locked or child-resistant storage container. Accidentally eating these products can lead to serious adverse events, especially in children.4

Early care and education programs should store any potentially toxic substances behind doors/cabinets with child-resistant locks/latches.  A locked cabinet or room that children cannot open or enter is best, but it must be locked all the time. Storing potentially toxic substances in child-resistant containers is another level of protection.

Safety data sheets (SDSs) must be available on site for each hazardous chemical that the program has. When you use chemicals, don’t let them contaminate play surfaces, food, or food preparation areas. Don’t use them in a way that is dangerous to children or staff. Chemicals for lawns must be safe for children if children use those areas of the lawn. When you are not using chemicals, keep them away from children by storing all chemicals in a locked room or cabinet with a child-resistant lock or latch. Store them separately from medications and food.

Medications can be toxic if taken by the wrong person or in the wrong dose. Store medications safely in child-resistant containers¾preferably in a locked cupboard or cabinet¾away from children nd discard them properly (see Standard

Post the telephone number for the poison control center in a place where it is immediately available in emergencies. Poison control centers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and their number is 800-222-1222 (see Standard


Over 2 million human poisonings are reported to poison centers every year. Children under 6 make up more than half of those poisonings. The most common sources of childhood poisonings are health and beauty products, cleaning products, and medications.5 A safety data sheet, or SDS, is a standardized document that has occupational safety and health information. The International Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) orders chemical manufacturers to inform the users of a chemical’s potential danger by giving the user an SDS. SDSs usually list chemical properties, health and environmental hazards, protective measures, and safety advice for storing, and handling of chemicals.6 The SDS explains the risk of exposure to products so that users can be careful.

Many child-resistant locks or latches can be put on doors or cabinets to keep young children from getting to poisons. Many of these devices lock automatically when the door is closed, and they need an adult’s hand or skill to open the door.

Many adult medications, vitamins, marijuana, and other products now look like candy or gummies. Using separate, locked medication cabinets helps prevent child exposure and mistakes that early care and education program staff can make.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Use of Tobacco, Electronic Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Drugs Medication Administration Labeling, Storage, and Disposal of Medications Integrated Pest Management Use of a Poison Center Informing Staff Regarding Presence of Toxic Substances Pool Equipment and Chemical Storage Rooms Chlorine Pucks Policies Prohibiting Smoking, Tobacco, Alcohol, Illegal Drugs, and Toxic Substances
Appendix J: Selection and Use of a Cleaning, Sanitizing or Disinfecting Product
Appendix K: Routine Schedule for Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
  1. Jung L, Fan N-C, Yao T-C, et al. Clinical spectrum of acute poisoning in children admitted to the pediatric emergency department. Pediatrics & Neonatology. 2019;60(1):59-67

  2. Davis MG, Casavant MJ, Spiller HA, Chounthirath T, Smith GA. Pediatric exposures to laundry and dishwasher detergents in the United States: 2013–2014. Pediatrics. 2016. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-4529
  3. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticides and their impact on children: key facts and talking points. 2015. Accessed August 3, 2022

  4. United States Food and Drug Administration. FDA warns consumers about the accidental ingestion by children of food products containing THC. June 16, 2022. August 3, 2022

  5. American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System. Annual Reports. Poison center data snapshots (2012-2020). Web site. Accessed August 3, 2022

  6. Chemical Safety. Safety Data Sheet Search. Web site. Accessed September 19, 2022


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 1/12/2017 and 1/31/2023.