COMMON HOUSEHOLD HAZARDS

Toxic materials are not only used in the industrial world. The average home contains dozens of potentially hazardous items to included hygiene and medical supplies, pesticides, soaps and detergents, batteries, flammable materials, and existing lead or asbestos hazards.

The reason so many products that seem relatively harmless are actually a potential threat is that products are only certified for safe use when used as directed. Therefore, if products are used or consumed improperly they could become harmful.

To better understand this concept, you must first understand the various ways in which a substance could cause harm: substances can enter the body though eating/ingestion, touching/absorption, puncturing/injection, or breathing/inhalation. While one product may be perfectly safe to apply topically and absorb into the skin, it may be toxic when eaten.

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WHO IS MOST AT RISK?

Not all hazardous exposures are toxic. The amount of the substance a person is exposed to is one factor contributing to an exposure's toxicity. The other factors include the frequency or repetition with which a person is exposed to a substance, and the individual's physical resiliency. This last factor of physical resiliency is what causes exposures in young children, or the elderly to be more toxic than the same exposure would be to a healthy adult.

You can attempt to overcome the factors of toxicity by putting into place measures to prevent hazardous exposures and ensure products are only used as intended. Clearly labeling products, keeping products out of the reach of susceptible populations, and educating susceptible populations of possible risks could help prevent a potentially toxic exposure.

STANDARD SAFETY PROCAUTIONS

  • Always read and following product instructions. Pay special attention to:

      - Dangerous mixing of chemicals

      - Approved purposes and concentrations

      - Recommended protective equipment

      - Storage and disposal instructions

      - First aid directions

  • Do not store potential hazards in containers that could be confused for food or drink.

  • If someone is exposed to a hazardous substance, and has injuries such as burning, vomiting or trouble breathing call 911. If no injuries are present, call the Poison Information Center at: 1-800-222-1222.

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FIRE SAFETY

When a fire starts in your home, you only have minutes to escape. The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. If a fire does occur, having working smoke detectors and a practiced fire escape plan can save lives. Fire safety precautions include:

  • Teach children about fire dangers such as matches or lighters, and keep such items out of their reach.

  • Teach children about 911: how and when to use it.

  • Check smoke alarms every month to ensure proper function.

          - Homes with no working smoke alarms account for 60 percent of house-fire deaths.

  • Develop a fire escape plan with your family, and practice it twice a year.

          - All family members should know of at least two ways to escape from every room in the home.

          - Ensure all family members know where the meet-up point is outside of the home

  • Practice the Stop-Drop-and-Roll procedures with all family members.

  • Do not use propane or charcoal grills indoors or under an overhang; only use grills when they are at least 10 feet from all structures.