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Ontario Poison Centre

Hidden Hazards

essential oil dropper

Hidden hazards around the home

Some poisons may not have a symbol identifying them as being dangerous. You may not realize the danger that these products pose to your family. Be aware of the potential danger of any product that you bring into your home.



All medicines may be dangerous if taken the wrong way, by the wrong person, or in the wrong amount.

Sometimes people think that medicines bought at a pharmacy without a prescription are safer than those that need a prescription. Remember that over-the-counter medicines are just as dangerous as prescription medicines. They should only be taken when needed and only as the label directs.

Natural Remedies

These days, many people choose natural health products to enhance or improve their health. Many choose these products because they feel they are safer alternatives than prescription or over-the-counter medicines. Natural health products should be treated with just as much caution as any other type of medicine. They should only be taken as directed and should be stored safely when not in use.

Other Hidden Hazards

Some products are designed to be used outside of their original containers. As time passes you may forget what hazard symbols were on the original label and forget about the potential dangers of the product. Use these products only as directed and mark the new container with any warnings or safety information.

Example: Lamp Oil

Usually contains kerosene or liquid paraffin

  • Extremely dangerous when even small amounts swallowed.
  • Label on the bottle has a 'skull and crossbones' hazard symbol indicating poison, however, bottle gets thrown out once the lamp oil is poured into the lamp.
  • Children have been known to taste the oil from the lamp. Even a taste can be very dangerous.

If you must store a product outside of its original container:

  • Write down any hazard or safety information from the label.
  • Store information with the product.
  • Ensure products are stored safely and only use as directed on the label.
hazard symbol

Hazard Symbols

Many poisons in your home are labeled with a Skull and Crossbones hazard symbol. Learn more about hazard symbols found on household products in Canada.



Many people forget that plants, growing both inside the home and outside in the garden, may be poisonous. Learn more about plants that can cause harm to your family.

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