Common Household Hazards

When thinking about emergency preparedness, we often focus on major weather events, seismic activity, or even terrorist attacks.  All too often, we completely overlook events that are much more commonplace, and can be equally as dangerous.  One area that I believe every family needs to think about is the dangers of chemicals that are readily accessible in our homes.

In response to the high number of accidents involving children and household chemicals in the Netherlands, an ad agency came up with this campaign that showcased how children see things differently from adults. The ads transformed common cleaning supplies into animals, a baby bottle, and other kid-friendly shapes. Most of these common household hazards seem obvious to us as adults, however a child will not always make that crucial distinction between a squirt gun and a Windex bottle.

Although there have been numerous public service announcements like this campaign, accidents are still happening every year, and usually the victims are under 5 years old. To ensure these accidents can’t happen, all potentially dangerous household items should be hidden away from children in unreachable places. But what constitutes as a “potentially dangerous household item?” For one, it is safe to assume that all cleaning supplies would fall under the title of potentially dangerous. Cleaning supplies not only includes general house cleaning items like soft scrub, bleach, and window cleaner, but laundry and dishwashing detergent as well. Medicine of any kind should also be kept up on a high shelf as well. These are the basic hazards of the average house, but there are many more just as dangerous, less conspicuous common household items. For instance, glow sticks.  These are a cheap item we all know and love, but did you know they can be deadly?

Glow sticks, necklaces and bracelets are especially popular among children at dances, skating arenas, Halloween, concerts, parties etc.  What many people don’t realize is that glow sticks can irritate skin, eyes and mucus membranes.

So what do you do if one of these beloved toys breaks?  For starters, if the liquid touches your kid’s lips for a few minutes, it’s okay. Wipe the child’s mouth, tongue, and gums off with a wet cloth and then give the child a glass of water.

If glow stick liquid gets into eyes, rinse out eyes for at least ten minutes. If irritation, swelling, pain or sensitivity continues to persist, call the poison center. For any poison emergency in the US, call 1-800-222-1222, The American Association of Poison Control Centers. You can also find a poison center near you here.

Glow sticks are not the only non-household cleaning supplies that can cause your child harm. Although the lead paint scare seems as if it was years in the past, led paint still exists in old homes, in water from lead pipe, toys made outside of the US, and some ceramic glazes. Other big household threats include carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons (kerosene, gasoline, oils etc.), mercury (thermometers or industrial applications), mothballs and those silica gel packets that come in new boxes of shoes, purses, or medicine bottles, beef jerky etc. These are all real threats that are not necessarily as obvious as prescription medicine or cleaning supplies. Be careful to always remove the silicon packets from new shoe boxes, don’t buy a cheap thermometer, and keep in mind that little glowing hands, tongues and lips need special attention.

Submitted by Camille T., a Food Insurance® guest author.

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