Beware! Pessah-cleaning time is accidental poisoning season

At least a third of parents admit they store cleaning products and insect sprays in insecure places.

By JUDY SIEGEL
March 19, 2010 05:11
2 minute read.
Beware! Pessah-cleaning time is accidental poisoning season

cleaning lady 88 224. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Despite the danger of accidental poisoning from cleaning products and insect sprays, at least a third of parents admit that they store such chemicals in unlocked cabinets under the kitchen sink or in other locations that can easily be reached by children under the age of six.

According to the National Poison Control Center at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, during the week before Pessah, the number of preschoolers harmed by swallowed cleaning products increases by 31 percent. Last year, 327 children accidentally swallowed such chemicals during the week before the festival, compared to 338 during the same period in 2008. Fewer cases occur two weeks before Pessah, but the numbers are still significant.

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Most accidental poisoning among children results from their curiosity and lack of understanding of the danger, according to the Health Ministry and Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, in a warning on Thursday. During the past year, a new official standard related to oven cleaners and fat removers went into effect, prohibiting the marketing of the most dangerous of these products and setting stricter rules for packaging and labelling the rest.

Chemical poisoning among children in Israel is different than in any other country because of the intensive cleaning that takes place before Pessah and the fact that most children are on vacation from day care and kindergarten during the same week, when parents tend to be too busy to supervise them.

Medications can also be toxic to young children and must be kept out of their reach.

In addition, parents should be careful about leaving pails lying around. A pail with even a few centimeters of water can be deadly, as babies and toddlers can climb in and drown.

In a representative sample of 501 Jewish parents of children up to age 15, surveyed by Beterem, over a third of them fail to keep dangerous chemicals in locked cabinets. The figure has not changed much since surveys in 2004 and 2005, it said.

Locking up these products is more common among parents of toddlers and less among those of four- and five-year-olds, but it is still dangerous to allow the older age group access, the organization said.
Cleaning products and other dangerous chemicals should never be stored in bottles and other containers that were previously used to hold food or beverages, as it misleads children, especially those who cannot read.

Never combine two different cleaning products, as a mixture can produce toxic gases. Do not store dangerous products near food or in drinking cups or glasses, and read the instructions carefully before using any cleaning products.

In the event of a suspected accidental poisoning, call the National Poison Control Center immediately at (04) 854-1900.


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