It shouldn’t take an Act of Congress to get you motivated to eliminate dangerous hidden poisons in your house and garage, but if that’s what you need, now is the perfect time to ensure that your home is safe for every member of your family.
Public Law 87-319 was signed by President Kennedy in 1961, established the third week of March as National Poison Prevention Week. The idea was to help prevent accidental poisoning by raising awareness of potentially dangerous issues around the home. Join the rest of America in reducing the risk of accidental poisoning, and make your house and garage a safer place for the people and pets important in your life.
How to Put Mold in its Place
Have you ever noticed a musty odor in your bathroom, basement or garage? That’s the smell of mold spores growing and multiplying right under your nose. Mold is devastating to anyone suffering from allergies, and certain varieties can be particularly dangerous to anyone who comes in contact with it. Mold thrives on moisture, and feels especially at home on and around drywall, dust, wood, and paper. Look for mold growing on basement walls, your closets, and on any wooden furniture stored in damp areas.
If the area affected by mold is less than 3-foot by 3-foot, you can probably clean it up by yourself. For anything larger, you should contact a professional cleaning contractor with mold removal and cleaning experience.
Mold on hard surfaces can be cleaned with a water and detergent solution. Be sure to wear gloves when removing mold, and dry the area thoroughly. Porous surfaces, such as ceiling tiles and drywall, may need to be replaced. Keep new mold spores at bay by using a dehumidifier to keep humidity below 50%, and always run a fan in your bathroom after showering. Fixing any plumbing leaks promptly will reduce the possibility of mold, as well as save you money on your water bill.
Beware of Fresh Carpet Smell
That fresh smell of new carpet is actually 4-PC, a chemical additive in carpet backing, and can bring on severe headaches to anyone in your family sensitive to chemicals. If possible, air out new carpet before installation, and keep any newly carpeted areas well ventilated for at least a week. Unfortunately, some carpets will continue to give off gas, and may need to be removed.
If you suspect that you have an off-gassing carpet, fold a paper towel in half twice and place on your carpet. Cover the folded paper towel with aluminum foil and tape it securely. Wait 24 hours, and then remove the paper towel, keeping it wrapped inside the foil. Take the package outside and unwrap it just enough to be able to sniff the paper towel. If it smells, your carpet has a gas problem.
Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer
You can’t see it or smell it, and most of the time you’re not even aware of the presence of carbon monoxide. At its lowest concentration, carbon monoxide can cause severe headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Greater concentrations can cause vision problems, a state of disorientation, and eventually death.
A risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is possible with water heaters, furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces, stoves, clothes dryers, and from running your car in a garage with the doors closed.
To protect your family from this deadly poison, install a carbon monoxide detector. Be sure to test it regularly. One good way to ensure that the batteries in both your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are kept fresh is to replace all batteries during each spring cleaning.
Have all of your fuel-burning appliances checked annually by a qualified service contractor. Any gas stoves should have an exhaust fan that vents to the outside. Finally, stop warming up your car in a closed-door garage.
Medications Can Harm as Well as Help
Children as well as elderly family members can easily mistake potentially dangerous medications for something else. Prescription and over-the-counter medications alike should be kept secure and out of sight from curious eyes.
Store all medications in a locked cabinet. Don’t leave medications in easily discovered places like your purse or a night stand drawer. Always keep medications in their original containers, and insist on child-proof caps for all bottles.
When your child is sick, don’t ever try to coax them into taking their medicine by referring to it as candy. They might be tempted later on if they discover your “candy” around the house.
Make a point of regularly cleaning out your medicine cabinet, and get rid of outdated medications by properly disposing of them. Don’t just dump your old medications down the drain – your trash collection company can advise you of the best way to safely dispose of outdated and unwanted drugs.
The Danger of Common Household Chemicals
Every home has dozens of potentially harmful chemicals that could seriously injure or kill small children and pets if not stored properly. The most common poisoning agents among children include furniture polish, bleach, detergents, and toilet bowl, oven and drain cleansers.
Cleaning supplies are frequently stored underneath bathroom and kitchen sinks. While this may be convenient for you, it’s hazardous to your children. Whenever possible, store these chemicals either on a higher shelf or in a locked cabinet. When using these products, always keep them out of children’s reach. All containers should be kept tightly closed and put away promptly when you’re done.
Your garage is another potential danger zone for children and pets. Chemicals found here are usually not only poisonous but volatile, and should be stored carefully. Common chemicals include paint and paint solvents, automotive products such as oil and anti-freeze solutions, lawn fertilizers and insecticides, and swimming pool chemicals.
As with medications, all hazardous chemicals should be kept in the original container, and stored in a ventilated, locked cabinet. As soon as you’re done using them, return to their secured storage cabinet.
Finally, keep the telephone number of the Poison Information Center handy in case of an emergency. The national toll free number is 1-800-222-1222.
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