Winter is finally over (YAY!) and everyone is headed outdoors, working around the house and garden and on their cars. During all this spring cleaning you will no doubt be making use of products that are perfectly safe when used correctly but can be potentially poisonous when they are used incorrectly or fall into the wrong hands. Now that the good weather has arrived and hopefully plans to stay awahile, products that have been stored during the winter months will be in daily use and if care is not taken, could be in easy reach of children.
Children have much easier access to dangerous substances, when household and yard products are actually in use. Young children should never be left alone with these products. If you are are using one of these products and are called away from the area, take the product or the child with you. Close supervision is one of the key factors in keeping children safe from poison.
The staff of the Indiana Poison Center reminds everyone to be especially careful when the following products are in use:
- Home cleaning products: alcohol, ammonia and detergents found in window cleaners and furniture polish can be eye irritants. Alcohols can cause intoxication and decreased blood sugar in children.
- Whitewall Tire cleaners: Alkaline materials can be highly corrosive to the skin, plus toxic solvents give off fumes.
- Aluminum cleaners: Aluminum door and siding cleaners may contain various mineral acids, the most dangerous containing hydrofluoric acid. Symptoms may be delayed and include severe pain on the part of the body touched by the cleaner. If you spill this toxic product on your hands or face, wash your skin immediately with large amounts of water and then call the Indiana Poison Center.
- Paint thinners and turpentine: Breathing difficulties can occur if these products are swallowed and get into the lungs. Drowsiness and heart problems may result if you inhale these substances in significant amounts. If you do spill paint solvents on your skin, wash your hands thoroughly and flush out your eyes if any should splash on your face. After removing the products from your skin, call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately for detailed treatment.
For those of you who enjoy gardening, keep these tips in mind to help protect you and your family.
- Wear protective clothing when spraying insecticides and pesticides
- Do not spray upwind when it is windy
- Keep children and pets away from sprayed areas until dry or for the time specified on the label
- Take care not to spray near children’s toys, play gyms, sandboxes, bikes and pet food dishes
- Store products in their original containers– you may know that the soda bottle in the garage contains weed-killer, but to your thirsty child on a hot day it may look like something good to drink. The container label also contains important information on how to use the product correctly and should be followed.
- NEVER leave the sprayer unattended, not even for a few seconds. Children act fast!!
Plants also can cause a hazard for children, inlcuding seeds that may be mistaken for candy. Many are coated with fungicides or insecticides. As you add new plants and flowers to your yard, be sure to label each one clearly with the plant name. If your child does eat part of a plant it is essential that you be able to tell the poison specialist exactly what was eaten. It is very difficult to identify a plant by description alone over the phone.
Poisoning is, of course, only one aspect to keep in mind when trying to keep your children safe. Buckets of water filled with sweet smelling liquid cleaners may be a potential poison hazard, but they also present a real danger for drowning. Be sure to check all swing sets and other playground equipment your child uses. Swing sets should be well anchored and maintained and have chains and seats that are intact and sound.
While you are doing your best to make your home a safe place for your child, it is just as important to remind grandparents, other family members, neighbors, babysitters and any other people that your child spends time with to follow these important safety tips.
To learn more about poison prevention and to receive a free magnet and phone stickers, call the Indiana Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222, or continue to explore our website. For a poisoning emergency, call the Poison Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222 where experts are standing by twenty-four hours a day to help you.