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Keep Safety in Mind When Cleaning House, Experts Advise

SATURDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- With spring-cleaning season here, the American Cleaning Institute reminds adults to protect family members and pets from accidental poisoning.

In conjunction with National Poison Prevention Week (March 20-26), experts offer advice that should be followed year-round:

  • Never assume a cabinet is too high for a child to reach. Cleaning supplies, medicines, cosmetics, chemicals and other products that can cause poisoning should be stored in cabinets with child-safety locks.
  • Properly close child-resistant packages after use. Keep in mind that "child-resistant" isn't the same as "child-proof" and is not a substitute for storing products locked away from children.
  • Always read and follow the directions on product labels. Pay special heed to products with labels that include "Caution," "Warning," "Danger" or "Poison."
  • Don't throw away original packaging. Household product labels include first-aid information that will be needed in case of accidental exposure or ingestion. For thrifty shoppers who buy products in bulk quantities, it would be wise to purchase a smaller size of the same product and refill the container as needed.
  • Dispose of empty cleaning containers, including detergent jugs. Never use them for storing other materials, especially not food items.
  • Always wash your hands after using cleaning products. Utensils used to measure or dispense medicines should be thoroughly washed with soap and water or placed in the dishwasher.
  • Use one household cleaning product at a time. Mixing products together could produce harmful fumes or other dangerous chemical reactions.

The institute also warns about products meant to be mixed at home. "We completely understand that Americans exhibit a can-do and do-it-yourself ethic in all facets of life, including make-your-own cleaning products. But there's often little safety, use or ingredient information offered by the purveyors of some of these schemes," Nancy Bock, American Cleaning Institute vice president of consumer education, stated in an institute news release.

"Safe use is built-in to formulated cleaning products. Many of the mix-at-home concoctions don't come with those assurances," Bock added.

Post the Poison Control Center phone number (1-800-222-1222) beside every phone in your home and enter it on your cell phone's contact list, experts advise.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about poisoning.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Cleaning Institute, news release, March 21, 2011

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