Pessah cleaners warned to beware of poisoning

More than a third of parents admit that they store cleaning materials and other chemicals in unsafe places.

March 19, 2007 01:11
2 minute read.
Pessah cleaners warned to beware of poisoning

pessah cleaning 88. (photo credit: )


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More than a third of parents admit that they store cleaning materials and other chemicals in unsafe places that could result in the accidental poisoning of their children, according to a phone survey by Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, which urges special care during housecleaning before Pessah. The number of accidental poisonings - and even drowning of babies in pails of water - during the two weeks before the festival is usually 90 percent higher than in ordinary weeks, and youngsters up to the age of six are in the greatest danger, due to curiosity and lack of information and understanding. In 2006, 285 children were hurt in such home accidents during the week before Pessah, down from the 313 hurt in the week before the holiday in 2005. The most dangerous chemicals are alkaline oven cleaners that work without heating. They contain caustic soda, causing serious burns on the skin when touched and to the mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach when swallowed. Beterem says that highly concentrated cleaning products with caustic acid sold here are not labelled or sealed well enough to protect children, thus the organization opposes their sale altogether. In the US and Europe, it is possible for the government to prohibit the sale of dangerous products even if they are labelled properly. The Israel Standards Institution's standards committee recently approved a recommendation that chemicals that can cause serious burns must be packaged with special safety openings to prevent children from reaching them. But this is not a mandatory standard, as it has not yet been adopted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Also very dangerous are bleaches, detergents, insecticides, paints, chemicals that remove lime and medications. Do not leave any of these unattended, even for a moment. Also, never leave pails of water on the floor if small children are in the vicinity; a baby can drown in only a few centimeters of water. Beterem director Dr. Michal Hemmo-Lotem and Dr. Yedidya Ben-Tur, director of the National Poison Control Center at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, urged that chemicals be kept under lock and key and in a high place that no young child can reach. Immediately after you finish using them, put them safely away in a locked cabinet. Purchase only those products sold in child-safe packaging. Do not store cleaning products together with food products. Always read label instructions before use. Never mix different cleaning products, as they can explode or cause other dangerous reactions. Several Israelis have been blinded or overcome by fumes of mixed cleaning products. Never put cleaning products in other containers, such as soft-drink bottles. In case of emergency or a suspected poisoning, immediately call the National Poison Control Center at (04) 854-1900.

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