Guidelines to Increase Chemical Safety at Home
Here are a few guidelines ASSE suggests to increase chemical safety at home:
- Read the warning label. Much time has gone into developing it for good reason. Be sure to understand and follow what it says on how to use the product safely, how to protect yourself when using it and how to properly store it. The manufacturer’s contact information always is on the label if more information is needed.
- More is not better, just more dangerous. Use all chemicals sparingly in the home.
- Don’t take the hazardous chemical out of the original container and place it in something else, such as an old plastic milk jug or an empty liter soda bottle. Not only are these containers not likely to be capable of safely storing the substance, but it also may be hard to remember later what was put in there in the first place. And remember, a young child may not know the difference between a yellow-colored cleaning product in an old Mountain Dew plastic container and the real thing.
- After using, immediately wash hands – or any other part of the body that may have come into direct contact with the substance – with warm soapy water.
- Follow safety recommendations when using hazardous substances.
- Properly ventilate the area by turning on the fan and opening the windows. If recommended, wear gloves, long sleeves and masks.
- Don’t leave chemical products unattended. If you must leave the room in the middle of a task, either put the product away or take it with you.
- Keep all hazardous chemicals out of the reach of young children or locked up. Properly mark and store under lock and key all household and pool chemicals, paints and poisons. Keep these on a high shelf, out of children’s reach.
- Dispose of household and chemical products that are leaking, expired or look bad.
- Know how to properly dispose of chemical products. If you don’t know how to dispose of the products, contact your local waste management authority.
- Post the poison control center number near every phone – in the United States it is (800) 222-1222.(in the British Virgin Islands-Hospital 494-3497)
- Never store hazardous chemicals near food or food products. Keep hazardous chemicals away from items used to prepare and cook foods in, such as pans and silverware. Never contaminate pots, pans and cooking utensils with a hazardous substance.
- Keeping a container of baking soda near the stove to put out grease-based fires does help, but it is advisable to purchase a small fire extinguisher for the kitchen. Many stores now carry a “K” type extinguisher designed for the kitchen. Be aware that unless a fire extinguisher company checks it, the useful life of the extinguisher is about 2 years. Prepare to replace it every other year or, even better, when changing the batteries in smoke detectors.
- It is dangerous to combine two common household cleaners – chlorine bleach and ammonia. It forms a highly toxic gas, which has caused serious respiratory injury and even some deaths