Your home is your sanctuary and you want to keep it safe. Your burglar alarm has given you peace of mind along with the mouse traps in the garage. You are careful to not give your address to just anyone and your kids know the safety rules when they are home alone. But what about the predators that you voluntarily bring into your home? Many foods and other items commonly found on your grocery list can turn into unsuspecting home dangers, and we have the tips to keep you and your family safe from them!

1. Cinnamon & Nutmeg

While cinnamon may seem harmless, it can be lethal. In small portions, it’s perfectly safe for children (and adults) to consume but cinnamon presents an inhalation/choking hazard along with a toxicity hazard in large doses (as can other spices). Why? It’s made primarily of cellulose, which doesn’t break down easily leading to possible choking, vomiting, gagging, asthma attacks or lung damage (potentially permanent damage).  To boot, teens have made a game out of consuming cinnamon without water – it’s called the Cinnamon Challenge. The YouTube videos became popular in 2012 which led many teenagers to take part. The influx of poison control calls, ER visits and hospitalizations were astounding. The journal Pediatrics reports in more detail the medical risks for adolescents.

Did you know that nutmeg is a hallucinogenic? The otherwise popular holiday spice doesn’t get a lot of press but it can be lethal even in small doses. Be sure to follow your recipes, which often call for trace amounts of nutmeg and keep all spices out of reach of small children (educate older kids on the dangers).

Related: An FDA report shows 12% of imported spices to be contaminated with human filth and some with salmonella. Will you get sick from these spices in small amounts? Probably not, but be mindful of what you are consuming and in what quantities!

2. Liquor

Adults are cautioned against consuming too much alcohol as the effects are well understood, but researchers are just starting to learn how even small amounts affect adolescents. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports harm to liver, bones, the endocrine system, brain development and growth. Alcohol dependence is also a risk factor. Keeping alcohol out of your home or locked away is a great first step..

Pro Tip: For help on having the conversation with your children and educating them on the risks of underage drinking, visit www.kidshealth.org.

3. Foods That Can Cause Choking

Young children don’t always chew thoroughly and therefore should be monitored closely for choking hazards. You’ve already heard about avoiding sticky foods such as honey or peanut butter, but what about the unusual suspects? For children under the age of five, the Nationwide Children’s organization recommends avoiding foods that are round and hard, such as:

  • Hot dogs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Chunks of meat or cheese
  • Whole grapes
  • Hard, gooey, or sticky candy
  • Popcorn
  • Raw vegetables
  • Raisins
  • Chewing gum
  • Marshmallows

They also recommend cutting food into half-inch pieces (or smaller) since children like to swallow food whole. Avoid letting them walk (and run) around with their food or even eat in the car – if they choke while you are driving, you may not be able