Protecting your children from ‘cupboard monsters’

The hazardous chemicals in your family home

In Victoria, at least six children a day receive medical attention after swallowing poisons (1). If you were to take a look under your kitchen or laundry sink, what would you expect to see? For most of us we would find a cupboard filled with cleaning products, dishwashing tablets, oven cleaners, detergents, bleaches and even insect repellant. Young children are accidentally poisoned in the home at an alarming rate. Yet the majority of parents do not think it will happen to their children in their home (2). Have you taken steps to protect your children from the monsters in your cupboard? Children, especially toddlers, get into anything and everything and if they can find it, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will give it a good old slobbery taste test. As a parent you would know that this taste testing curiosity comes naturally for your children and doesn’t stem from watching too much Master Chef.

How to protect your little monsters from the “monsters in your cupboard”.
You can start by targeting the chemical hotspots in your home and applying these three simple steps. Generally speaking, under the kitchen and laundry sink you will find cleaning and dishwashing products. Your bathroom and bedroom cupboards can often contains pills, vitamins or medications. In dads “man cave” you will find petrol, oils, spray cans, week killer, paints, glue or rat sack. Many, if not all of these chemicals can have serious health affects if our children are exposed to them.

Step 1. Eliminate what you do not need and throw out any old or unused chemicals.
Step 2. Reduce the number of chemicals you store at home by using multi purpose or 3 in 1 cleaners.
Step 3. Isolate whatever chemicals you have left by locking them up, either by locking the cupboard doors or by purchasing a small lockable toolbox (also handy for carrying products around the home).

Hint: try not to buy a toolbox better than dad’s, as he might become envious.



  1., (2010). Victorian Poisons Information Centre Annual Report 2010. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Aug. 2014].
  2. Education.vic.gove, (2011). Is your home poison proof. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Aug. 2014].

This post was prepared by Tony for the subject Screening and Monitoring in Occupational Health and Safety 2014