Most of us buy numerous types of cleaning supplies off the grocery store shelves. Ammonia, bleach, and a host of other chemicals fill our grocery carts, and then our homes. Many products containing these substances have been used for decades or longer, yet not everyone knows how to clean with them safely, which can lead to serious and sometimes dangerous safety hazards.
If you purchase and use a variety of chemical products to clean or repair your home, you may want to check out the following suggestions for keeping your family safe from fumes, burns, and even explosions that can occur when products are used inappropriately or incompatibly with each other.
1. Store lethal compounds in a safe, locked area away from pets and children. Anything that a child or a pet might be tempted to open and get into must be considered a safety concern, especially if the product is a known toxin. Dogs, for example, like the sweet smell of anti-freeze and will lap up any spills that occur. But this can prove fatal to them, which is why owners must be responsible in protecting pets from this type of accident. Kids, too, are drawn to the color of products like windshield wiper fluid that, to them, resembles a fruit punch color. But drinking it is harmful and possibly fatal, so it is imperative that parents keep things like this out of the reach of young children. Keep the caps tightly secured on the containers, and lock them in a cupboard with non-flammable items in the garage or shed.
2. Follow package directions when using chemical products. For example, when pouring acid down the sink or tub to loosen a clogged drain, you should wear protective gloves and eye gear in case the product splashes onto your skin or in your face. Acid is very dangerous due to its corrosive nature, and must be handled carefully. The same holds true for products like oven cleaner. These items, too, should be stored away from milder cleaners in child-safe cupboards or areas.
3. Never combine products unless the directions tell you to do so. Bleach and ammonia, for example, form a lethal gas that in large amounts, usually at the commercial level, can be fatal. Even at home, however, using bleach to clean a toilet or diaper pail can result in irritating fumes that could harm someone’s eyes or throat. Use the correct amount of product that is indicated on the package for the job you have in mind. Too much can have unexpected negative results.
Don’t let children use cleaning products without your supervision. Train older kids how to use chemicals appropriately and safely, and then watch to be sure they follow your directions. Teach them how to clean up afterwards, including putting things away, mopping up spills, and washing their hands. Always vent an area well where you are using chemicals that create fumes.
Today’s products make cleaning easier than ever before. But it is still important to follow directions for safe, reliable usage.