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Updated Apr 06, 2023

How to protect Children & pets when working with pesticides

The photo shows a child and dog on a lawn. They can be exposed to pesticides used on the lawn or tracked indoors. The chemicals in pesticides can harm children and pets if they are exposed to them.

If you are concerned about a potential exposure or poisoning, contact the Oregon Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 or

What are pesticides?

Pesticides are products designed to kill rodents, weeds, mosses, insects, plant diseases, slugs, and snails. Household disinfectants such as bleach and ammonia are considered pesticides. Flea-killer products are too.

Read pesticide labels. Follow the instructions.

  • Use information provided on pesticide labels to understand the risks of the product. Labels also tell you how to apply pesticide products correctly.
  • Follow the instructions to minimize risks.
  • Follow the instructions to maximize benefits.

Understand how Children & Pets can be exposed

They may be exposed to pesticides if:

  • They get them on their skin.
  • They breathe them in.
  • They eat without having washed their hands after touching contaminated items.
  • They touch or eat plants that are wet with spray (which applies to you as well as pets or children).
  • They bring pesticides inside on shoes or clothes.

READ THE LABEL & Follow THE Instructions

Labels contain instructions to protect you and the environment.

  • Labels are different for every product and they often change over time.
  • Use a magnifying glass.
  • Pay attention to the “signal” words CAUTION, WARNING, and DANGER in statements. CAUTION represents a lower risk, WARNING is higher, and DANGER is the highest risk.
  • Pay attention to the PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS.
  • The law requires you to read and follow pesticide directions.

How to minimize Children’s & pets’ exposure to pesticides

  • Children are at risk if they discharge a pressurized insecticide can. Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Keep children and pets away from the application area.
  • Remove toys and pet dishes from the area before applying pesticides.
  • Don’t track pesticide products into home on shoes or clothes.
Children and pets are at risk if they touch or consume poison bait for rodents. Use bait stations to protect children, pets, and wildlife.

StorING Pesticide Products

  • Store pesticides in their original container. They have the correct lid/cap to protect children and pets.
  • Keep stored pesticides out of the reach of children and pets. Ideally, store pesticides in a locked container.
  • For more information, see Storing Pesticides.


The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)  can answer questions about pest control chemicals.
 1-800-858-7378 or 

Content provided by Weston Miller and Kaci Buhl.

 Peer reviewed by OSU Department of Horticulture.

Photo of Weston Miller

Weston Miller

Project Founder and Content Writer

Weston Miller served as Community and Urban Horticulture faculty for Oregon State University Extension Service for Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. Weston is an author for content for this website. He developed funding partnerships with Portland area agencies to initiate and build out the Solve Pest Problems website focused on this goals:

Photo of Kaci Buhl

Kaci Buhl

At the state level, I lead the Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP). The program hosts live recertification events around the state, serving over 1,000 licensed pesticide applicators each year. We also produce web-based training modules and license-preparation study manuals. Special training for unlicensed pesticide applicators is also available through a grant from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The PSEP at OSU works closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Pesticides Division.