In San Diego County, two mothers chatted while their children, a 2-year-old and a baby, played in the next room. Sudden laughter prompted one mom to check on the youngsters. She found the older child with an insecticide can and the baby's face shiny-wet and smelling of pesticide. The baby was bathed and taken for medical care.

This incident is one of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) “Top 10 Pesticide Blunders” released during National Poison Prevention Week. They remind everyone how to avoid illness and injury by selecting household cleaning and gardening products that pose the least risk to their health and the environment and to follow label instructions.

“Pesticides are designed to control or kill ants, spiders, weeds and other pests,” DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam said. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to select products that best target the problem. Then follow the label instructions carefully to prevent anyone from getting sick or hurt.”

Warmerdam also urged consumers to consider an integrated pest management approach to reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides. This strategy includes removing crumbs and other food sources, fixing leaky plumbing, and sealing cracks and crevices with caulk so pests can’t get in. She suggested these extra precautions to prevent pesticide exposure in and around the home:

• Store pesticides properly to keep them away from children and adults who are unable to recognize pesticide containers.

• Keep pesticides in their original containers so no one mistakes them for food or drink. Never put pesticides in food or drink containers.

• Do not mix bleach with ammonia or other cleansers. This can form a toxic gas.

The San Diego County incident and blunders below in alphabetical order by county were drawn from 2009 and 2010 illnesses and injuries reported to DPR. State privacy law protects their identities.