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.


The following items should be used as recommended by the manufacturer and should be stored in the original labeled containers:

  1. Cleaning materials;
  2. Detergents (in all forms, including pods);
  3. Automatic dishwasher detergents (in liquid or solid forms, including pods);
  4. Aerosol cans;
  5. Pesticides;
  6. Health and beauty aids;
  7. Medications;
  8. Lawn care chemicals;
  9. Marijuana (in all forms, including oils, liquids, and edible products);
  10. Liquid nicotine and tobacco products; and 
  11. Other toxic materials. (1-6)

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) must be available onsite for each hazardous chemical that is on the premises.

These substances should be used only in a manner that will not contaminate play surfaces, food, or food preparation areas, and that will not constitute a hazard to the children or staff. When not in active use, all chemicals used inside or outside should be stored in a safe and secure manner in a locked room or cabinet, fitted with a child-resistive opening device, inaccessible to children, and separate from stored medications and food.

Chemicals used in lawn care treatments should be limited to those listed for use in areas that can be occupied by children.

Medications can be toxic if taken by the wrong person or in the wrong dose. Medications should be stored safely (see Standard and disposed of properly (see Standard

The telephone number for the poison center should be posted in a location where it is readily available in emergency situations (e.g., next to the telephone). Poison centers are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.

There are over two million human poison exposures reported to poison centers every year. Children under six years of age account for over half of those potential poisonings. The substances most commonly involved in poison exposures of children are cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning substances, and medications (7).

The SDS explains the risk of exposure to products so that appropriate precautions may be taken.

Many child-resistant types of closing devices can be installed on doors to prevent young children from accessing poisonous substances. Many of these devices are self-engaging when the door is closed and require an adult hand size or skill to open the door. A locked cabinet or room where children cannot gain access is best but must be used consistently. Child-resistant containers provide another level of protection.

In states that permit recreational and/or medicinal use of marijuana, special care is needed to store edible marijuana products securely and apart from other foods. State regulations typically require that these products be clearly labeled as containing an intoxicating substance and stored in the original packaging that is tamper-proof and child-proof. Any legal edible marijuana products in a family child care home should be kept in a locked or child-resistant storage device. 
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 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
  1. McKenzie, L.B., Ahir, N., Stolz, U. Nelson, N.G. Household cleaning product-related injuries treated in US emergency departments in 1990–2006. Pediatrics. 2010:126(3).
  2. Davis, M.G., Casavant, M.J., Spiller, H.A., Chounthirath, T., Smith, G.A. 2016. Pediatric Exposures to Laundry and Dishwasher Detergents in the United States: 2013–2014. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-4529.
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health. Pesticide exposure in children. Pediatrics. 2012:130(6).
  4. Wang, G.S., Le Lait, M.C., Deakyne, S.J., Bronstein, A.C., Bajaj, L., Roosevelt, G. 2016. Unintentional Pediatric Exposures to Marijuana in Colorado, 2009-2015. JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(9):e160971. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0971.
  5. American Academy of Pediatrics News. 2014.  Liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can kill children.
  6. Safe Kids Grand Forks, Altru Health System. 2016. Electronic cigarette safety tips.
  7. American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System. 2015. Poison center data snapshot - 2014.

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