2006-12-01 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

Commentary By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

Audrey Pheffer
Audrey Pheffer Did you know that many common household products are actually hazardous? Bleach, lighter fluid, toilet and drain cleaners, certain indoor and outdoor plants, pesticides, certain medicines and vitamins, antifreeze, batteries, and other common items are potentially harmful and can adversely affect your family's health, especially that of young children and pets who may not realize the threat that these products pose. Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to ensure your family's health and safety.

Read all product labels before storing or using the product, and always follow the directions carefully. Always be sure to keep a hazardous product in its original container. This ensures that it will remain properly labeled and will prevent a user from confusing the hazardous item with something else. If a product is dangerous, be sure to store the product out of the reach and view of children, and store the product immediately after use.

If the product must be stored in a cabinet that is easily accessible to children, consider childproofing the cabinet by installing a safety latch or lock on the cabinet. To prevent cross contamination, hazardous products should always be stored separately from food products, beverages, and items that may come into contact with food or beverages, such as dishes, glasses, cookware, and utensils. Also, when purchasing such products, especially medicines and vitamins, be sure to buy those that come in child-resistant containers.

Children are naturally curious, and they also tend to mimic adult behavior. To prevent a child from misusing medicine or vitamins, do not refer to medicine or vitamins as "candy," and never leave a child alone with medicine, vitamins, or any other dangerous product. Be sure to teach children about hazardous household products. If you would like poison warning stickers to label and identify dangerous products for your children, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) at 1-800-222-1222 and request that the stickers be sent to you. This number is available twenty-four hours a day and is free of charge. The AAPC's website, www.aapcc.org , is a great resource for parents and children alike and includes a variety of educational material.

In case of accidental exposure or ingestion of a hazardous product, call the Poison Control Center or your doctor immediately. They will tell you how to proceed. You will need to be able to provide the condition, weight, and age of the person affected, the name of the product, and the amount of the product that was ingested.

Always keep a Poison Control Center's phone number and your doctor's phone number near your phone in case of emergency, and make sure all family members and care providers know where the numbers can be found.

If your pet accidentally ingests or is exposed to a hazardous product, call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426- 4435. A five dollar consultation fee may be charged for calling the APCC.

To learn more about how to protect your family and pets from hazardous household products, please visit the Poison Control Center's website at www.aapcc.org , the National Capitol Poison Center's website at www.poison.org , or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Anmals' website at www.aspca.org.

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