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Keeping Your Family Protected from Poisons

When small children and pets are in the house, all potentially poisonous products should be out of reach and ideally locked in a cupboard or closet.

Cleaning supplies are the obvious culprits when it comes to poisonous substances, but there are other products in our homes that are toxic—not all of which are in the bathroom or kitchen. A good rule is to always keep products in their original container, so there is never any question as to the contents. Review this short list of everyday products and ensure that you are storing and using them safely.

Cleaning Supplies
Our grandmothers and mothers knew never to mix bleach and ammonia. Doing so creates a gas that causes breathing problems, which can be fatal. As a general rule, bleach should never be mixed with other cleaners, including toilet bowl cleaners and drain cleaners. It’s also a good idea to store bleach separately from ammonia and other cleaning supplies.

Oven cleaner, antibacterial cleaner, window and glass cleaner, furniture polish, dishwashing detergents, and laundry detergents are other examples of cleaners that should be stored away from food, cooking supplies, and out of the reach of children and pets.

Automotive Supplies
Antifreeze, motor oil, windshield washer fluid, car batteries, and paint are often found in the garage. These items should be set high on shelves, out of direct sunlight. These products are prone to leaks and spills, so check the containers regularly and keep them and the surrounding area drip-free.

Garden Supplies
If you have a swimming pool, chloride tablets are potentially toxic, as are insect repellents, weed killers, and rodent bait/traps. Fertilizers should also be stored properly.  Keep these items in a dry area and away from extreme temperatures.

Everyday Items
Parents need to be especially vigilant in protecting children from everyday items that may be toxic. These include medications, cosmetics, alcoholic drinks, mouthwash, and small batteries. Keep these items out of low bathroom cabinets. Handbags should be kept off the floor and out of the reach of children and pets. Make sure guests always stow their bags on a high shelf.

Though most household products are reasonably safe when used as directed, in the event of accidental inhalation, skin exposure, or swallowing of hazardous chemicals, call Poison Control immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

This article first appeared in the March 2016 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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