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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
Hazardous Materials Hazardous Materials
Storage & Handling
If you use hazardous products, you can avoid accidents and poisonings. Be sure to follow the directions for how to mix and use the product

Read the Label

Before you Open the Container

  • HAVE A BACK-UP. Think for a moment about what you would do if something went wrong, especially if you have a spill, or if you splash any of the product on yourself. Have a back-up person around to help you if you get into trouble while using a product that is labeled "Warning" or "Danger".
  • FOLLOW the INSTRUCTIONS on what to wear. Gloves, goggles, and long sleeves can keep you healthy.
  • DON’T eat, drink, or smoke while handling hazardous products.
  • NEVER mix products together! Mixing ordinary chemicals can cause dangerous reactions that form toxic gases or explosions.
  • KEEP AREA WELL VENTILATED. Make sure there’s plenty of fresh air. Work outdoors if possible, especially with paints and solvents.
  • USE ORIGINAL CONTAINERS. Keep products in their original containers. It is especially important not to pour them into a food container (like a mayonnaise jar) that children might accidentally associate with food.
  • STAY CLEAN. Always wash up afterwards with soap and water.
  • STAY ALERT and AVOID INTERRUPTIONS. If you are interrupted for any reason (like to answer the telephone or the door) when handling hazardous products and medications, be sure to take pets and children with you . Better yet, when using hazardous products, keep kids and pets away, do only one thing at a time, and don’t leave the area until the product is safely put away.
Take extra care with the following products:
  • Cleaning products that can cause burns: oven cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, drain cleaners, and rust removers.
  • Solvents like paint thinners, strippers, furniture refinishing solutions, lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene, and turpentine.
  • Any product meant to kill insects, animals, or plants.
  • Medicines (including aspirin and other over-the-counter medications, which are the most common cause of poisoning deaths).
  • Products a child or pet might drink, like antifreeze and windshield washer solution.

Always follow the directions on the label except for directions that say to put the product in the trash or to dump it down a drain.  Bring the product to the Household Hazardous Waste Center instead.

What if Poisoning Occurs?

The California Poison Control System (CPCS) is the statewide provider of immediate, free and expert treatment advice and assistance over the telephone in case of exposure to poisonous, hazardous or toxic substances. The SPCS is accessible toll-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The Poison Action Line at 1-800-876-4766 is FAST, FREE and PRIVATE.

Or try California Poison Control.
American Association of Poison Control Centers is a good resource for information on how to prevent poisonings

Safe Storage

Store hazardous products in a dry location away from heat sources, food, and medications and out of the reach of children and pets. Always store products in their original containers—having the safety closure and the product label is very important for your safety. If you have flammable and corrosive products, store them in two separate places (they are not compatible).

Earthquake Safety

Consider earthquake safety for your household chemical products. Two things you can do to keep your family safe in the event of an earthquake:
  • SECONDARY CONTAINMENT Store products in “secondary containment”— a solid plastic or metal container like a storage box, dish pan, or cleaning caddy. That way, if the container falls over, the chemical stays in one place.
  • CHILD SAFETY LOCKS Put a child safety lock on the cabinet door. Most child safety locks keep cabinets closed in an earthquake—keeping your products on the shelves and away from your family and pets.
Think realistically about whether you plan to use your hazardous products again soon. Why not drop them off at the City’s household hazardous waste collection center? The centers stores reusable products in a special cabinet where they are available (for FREE) for reuse.

Make a Smart Choice About Toxics:

Signal Words: Look for the label signal word (Caution, Warning, Danger or Poison). Choose products labeled “Caution” over “Warning”; avoid products labeled “Danger”.
  1. Choose These: Choose products with label statements such as: non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-petroleum based, free of ammonia, phosphates, dye or perfume, readily biodegradable, non-fuming and recyclable container.
  2. Purchase only what you need: Even if there is a price break for large quantities.
  3. Read Labels: Read the label thoroughly and follow label instructions exactly for proper dilution, application, and precautions such as eye and skin protection and proper ventilation.
  4. Hazardous Waste Center: If you have leftover products, bring them to the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Center for reuse, recycling or disposal. You may also use the City's Door-to-Door Collection program. These services are free to Santa Monica residents.
Last updated: Wednesday, 01/09/2013

Home Collection


Try Home Collection, where the Haz-Mat technician comes to you. 

The service is provided on a free and unlimited basis to homeowners and renters alike, and setting up an appointment is easy.  


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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626