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Health Department Notes: Spring poison prevention pointers

It is important to keep safety in mind as you begin your spring cleaning and gardening. Many of the products used, such as garden chemicals, paint thinner, bleach and furniture polish, are poisonous. Almost anything can be a poison if it’s used the wrong way, by the wrong person, or in the wrong amount. In case of a possible poisoning, call the Poison Helpline at 1-800-222-1222 to talk to a poison expert.

You can also protect yourself and those around you by exercising a little caution. Here are some simple tips to help you clean safely:

• Keep household cleaning products and other chemicals in the containers they came in, and always store them away from food and out of the reach of children.

• Read and follow directions for use and disposal of cleaning products and never mix chemicals, including household cleaners or detergents.

• Turn on fans and open windows when using chemicals or household cleaners. Don’t sniff containers to see what is inside.

• When spraying chemicals, direct the nozzle away from people and pets. Bug and weed killers can be taken in through the skin or inhaled and can be poisonous too. Even leather shoes and gloves do not offer full protection, so stay away from areas that have been sprayed for at least an hour.

• Wear protective clothing when using any spray products. If pesticides are splashed onto the skin, rinse with soap and running water. Wash your clothing after using chemicals, too.

• Tell your children that they should ask a grown-up if they’re not sure if something is dangerous. Tell them to stay away from things used to clean the house, clothes, or car.

If you suspect someone has been poisoned, call the Poison Helpline right away to talk to a poison expert. It doesn’t have to be an emergency to call. No matter where you are in the U.S., the Poison Helpline will connect you to your local poison control center.

Poison centers are not just for parents of young children. They are for anyone who needs advice, including adults and health care providers. Nurses, pharmacists, doctors and other experts specially trained in poisoning answer the phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The call is free and confidential, and you can get help in 161 languages. Services are also available for the hearing impaired. Post the number by your home phone and program it into your cell phone for quick access.

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