Handle household chemicals with care

You probably use many household chemical products in and around your home and garage. These products may include cleaning liquids and powders, polishes, drain cleaners, paint thinners, and windshield washer fluids. Chemicals can be dangerous and cause burns, fires, poisonings and even explosions.

Household chemical products are among the top products responsible for injuries and deaths in children under the age of five years. Bad taste and odours often do not keep children away from household chemical products. Even a small amount of a chemical product can be harmful to a child.

Use, store, and dispose of household chemicals carefully. Learn the meaning of the hazard symbols and follow all directions on the label. Here are some safety tips to protect yourself and your family.

  1. Read the label before you buy or use a household chemical product. Follow the instructions every time you use the product, and read the instructions on safe use and storage. Look for hazard symbols on the front of the product. If you don't already know what these symbols mean, learn them. Do not cover up or remove the labels from household chemical products. By law, household chemical products must have a bordered label on the back or side. Inside the border, you will find instructions for safe use and first aid treatment, and a list of harmful substances in the product.

  2. Use household chemical products carefully, especially around children. Never mix household chemical products together; some mixtures can produce harmful gases. Check that child-resistant closures are in good working order. Remember that child-resistant does not mean child-proof. Close the cap on the container all the way even if you set it down for just a moment. Teach children that hazard symbols mean Danger! Do not touch.

  3. Store all household chemical products in their original containers, and keep all safety information. Keep all household chemical products locked away, where children cannot see or reach them. Try not to store products that may release harmful fumes or catch fire inside your home. These items include paints, solvents, gasoline, fuels or varnishes. Store them according to the instructions on the product's label in a separate building if you can, or in an area that is well vented to the outside.

  4. Dispose of leftover household chemical products safely. Buy only the amount you need for the job so there is no waste. Check your city or town's guidelines for instructions on how to dispose of chemicals and other hazardous waste. Never burn household chemical containers, and do not re-use empty containers.

If someone has been in contact with a household chemical product and you think they may have been harmed:

  • Call a Poison Control Centre or your health care provider right away. You can find phone numbers for the Poison Control Centre nearest you by searching Poison Control Centre and your province or territory on the Internet, or by checking at the front of your local telephone book.

  • Tell the person who answers the phone what the product label says. There should also be first aid instructions on the back or side of the product surrounded by a border.

  • Bring the product with you when you go for help.

Source: www.healthycanadians.gc.ca