With parents occupied with pre-Pessah cleaning and children soon to be on vacation, the accidental poisoning season has begun. Beterem, the Nation Center for Child Safety and Health, noted that the number of accidents involving child poisonings rises significantly before Pessah, but all of them can be prevented, as can occasional drownings of toddlers in pails left on the floor with even a small amount of water. Fat-removing chemicals, including cold-oven cleaners, containing a high concentration of caustic soda are among the most dangerous, as they cause severe internal burns when swallowed, said Beterem director Dr. Michal Hemmo-Lotem. Packaging and labelling of these products are inadequate, and they should not be used in homes where there are children, she added. In the US and Europe, there is an option of barring the use of such products even though they are labelled with relevant warnings. The Israel Standards Institution's standards committee recently approved a standard that would require such chemical cleaners to be sold in safety packaging and contain active ingredients at a concentration that cannot harm health. However, this recommended standard is not binding until the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment officially accepts it. A recent case involved a two-year-old child who drank half a cup of caustic soda cleaner and was hospitalized in intensive care for two weeks and a week in the surgery department. He suffered severe burns to the esophagus and stomach and couldn't swallow solid food for a long time afterward. A two-year-old boy who sprayed oven cleaner on his face suffered severe facial burns. A four-year-old boy swallowed oven cleaner that his mother had placed on a high shelf, thinking he couldn't reach it. A nine-month-old baby girl crawled to a bathroom cabinet and pulled out chemicals that poured out on her leg and caused burns. A new Beterem survey by Hemmo-Lotem and Liri Andy-Findling found that 56 percent of the public have no idea that mere skin contact with these leaning materials can cause harm to health. More than two-thirds were unaware that cold-oven cleaners containing caustic soda were very dangerous when swallowed. Always read instructions before use, said Beterem's director. In the event of a suspected poisoning, immediately call the National Poison Control Center at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa at (04) 854-1900. If someone swallows acidic cleaning materials (like toilet cleaner) or alkaline chemicals (like oven cleaners), give the victim half a glass of water or milk to drink if there are no breathing problems and he is fully conscious. Do not cause the child to vomit, as this could intensify the damage. If chemicals reach the eyes or skin, wash them with large amounts of running water. Meanwhile, Yad Sarah, the country's largest home health equipment lending and community service organization, advised the public to use proper body mechanics and pacing to get their pre-Pessah cleaning done in time. Start now and do cleaning in small increments. Take frequent breaks to stretch or just relax your muscles and be sure to drink plenty of water. Don't waste time stooping and bending over from the waist; instead, sit on a low stool or use a helping hand-reacher.