Kids are curious creatures. They want to find out the facts about every little thing in life Ė including things that might harm them.
Poison Prevention Week in Canada is being observed March 14-20 this year, and itís the perfect opportunity to talk to your children about the potential dangers of everyday household products. According to Health Canada, more than half of all incidents with household chemical products involve children. By teaching your kids how to recognize the hazard symbols on chemical products, and what to do if they suspect accidental poisoning, you can help prevent an injury and even save a life. With the help of Health Canada, Downhome has compiled these tips on poison prevention:
Make sure your kids know the hazard symbols and what they mean. For example, tell them that the skull and crossbones doesnít signal pirates, but poison; or that a container with a picture of a flame on it means the substance inside or its fumes will catch fire easily if itís near heat, flames or sparks. Teach your kids that these symbols mean danger and if they see a bottle or can with any of these symbols, do not touch!
Out of sight, out of mind. Do an inventory of your home, garage and yard, and keep any products that have these hazard symbols locked away in a place where children cannot see or get access to them.
Do a double take and make sure that child-resistant containers are working properly when you buy a product and again right after you use it; but donít assume that child-resistant means child-proof. Health Canada requires household chemicals that are toxic, corrosive or quick skin-bonding (such as super glue) to be packaged in child-resistant containers, but given enough time and curiosity, young children can figure out how to open most of the containers by themselves. When you are done with the container, immediately press down and close the cap all the way. It only takes a second - for example, while you lay down the container for a moment to answer the phone or door - for a child to swallow enough poison to seriously harm himself. Due to their smaller size and faster breathing and heart rate, children may in fact absorb or inhale chemicals faster than adults.
When purchasing a product, try to choose one thatís not hazardous. However, keep in mind that cleaning solutions made from vinegar, baking soda or ammonia can still be hazardous. Try to avoid buying products with colourful labels that may attract young children. Also, buy only as much product as you need. Less to store means less of a hazard.
Never remove or cover up labels and keep products in their original containers. Never transfer the contents to unmarked containers. Before using any products, read the label carefully and follow the instructions. The label gives important information on correct use, storage and what to do in case of injury. And use only as much product as you need; using more doesnít always mean better results.
Never mix chemicals together. Some chemicals can create a deadly combination when mixed together, and other mixtures can produce harmful gases. Keep chemicals separate to avoid becoming ill.
If at all possible, do not use hazardous chemicals when children are around. However, if your children are near when you are using chemicals, make sure they are supervised at all times.
Do not eat or drink when using chemicals, as some may splash onto your food or drink.
Do not smoke when using a chemical product. Turn off pilot lights or anything that may spark and cause the product to catch fire.
Keep cool. When using chemicals, make sure the area youíre working in a cool and well-ventilated area.
When youíre finished with the product, clean up. Close all lids, clean up spills and store rags away in a secure place. Make sure your storage area is also well-ventilated. Keep products away from furnaces, stoves and other heat sources.
Keep your numbers handy. Make a copy of emergency numbers, keep them close to the phone and make sure your kids know them. Tell your kids if someone gets hurt by a product that has a hazard symbol on the label, they should call the Poison Control Centre or doctor right away and tell the person on the line what the label says. If you do have to go to the hospital for help, bring the product with you.
For more information, click here to visit Health Canada online.