Poison control center warns about Pessah cleaning dangers

Youngsters are often inadequately supervised while parents clean the house using chemicals, and even leaving a few centimeters of standing water in a pail can result in drowning.

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April 7, 2011 04:27
2 minute read.
A FULL-TIME cleaner can make less than minumum wag

cleaner 58. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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During the two weeks before Pessah and especially during the school vacation, the number of incidents of accidental poisoning, skin burns and drowning skyrockets, especially among children up to the age of six, according to the National Poison Control Center at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, BETEREM and the Health Ministry.

Youngsters are often inadequately supervised while parents clean the house using chemicals, and even leaving a few centimeters of standing water in a pail can result in drowning.

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The Haifa center said this week that during this risky period, the number of accidents rises by a third or more, and 45 percent to 60% of the victims are preschoolers. Almost all are exposed to the dangers at home and harmed due to curiosity and lack of parental information – including the information that cleaning products should never be mixed together or used without ventilation. Pesticides, petroleum products and medications also find themselves in children’s hands.

The phenomenon is unique to Israel and to Jewish communities in the Diaspora, the center said.

BETEREM, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, said that a survey of 501 parents of Jewish children up to the age of 15 found that a third were storing cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink behind unlocked cabinets. Parents of higher income and education are more likely to be careful about toxic product storage.

Two years ago, a new standards regulation required oven cleaner, which can be very harmful, to be wellmarked and have a childproof mechanism.

Foreign substances should never be put in bottles that usually contain drinks. Dangerous materials shouldn’t be left even for a moment; they must be immediately closed securely and put out of reach. In addition, these products should not be stored near foods, to avoid confusion.

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If a child swallows a caustic material, he or she should not be induced to vomit, but rushed to the hospital. If older children are encouraged to help cleaning, they must be well supervised.

In the event of concern about possible poisonings, the national center at (04) 854-1900 can be contacted around the clock.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gad Ben-Dror, an expert in infectious diseases at Ziv Hospital in Safed, warned that every Pessah, more people mishandle fresh fish in the kitchen – especially while cleaning scales, bones and fins – exposing themselves to the danger of hands, arms and even shoulders being infected with potentially deadly Vibrio bacteria.

People suffering from chronic diseases should especially avoid this and ask their fishmonger to clean the fish for them.

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