They’re in our homes and we use them every day, but we often forget the dangers behind them. Household chemicals are the main culprit responsible for unintentional poisoning leading to death or hospitalization for children under the age of 15. If used incorrectly, they can cause irritation, severe burns, and respiratory distress, even in adults. Although Canada’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) has issued a guideline for product labels, not all household materials follow these instructions.
Keeping safety in mind while using or storing certain products is easy by following these simple steps to avoid any unwanted accidents:
• Read the product’s label before use. It is important to always follow instructions when using a chemical product.
• Be aware of any potential dangers when mixing different products. Some mixtures can produce harmful gases that can be dangerous for pets and family members.
• Follow proper guidelines for chemical waste disposal. Make sure to check your municipality’s by-laws for instructions on how to dispose of chemical products.
• Only buy the quantities necessary for your home and store household chemicals according to their guidelines.
Understanding the hazard symbols on the product’s container is a very important step towards safety. According to Health Canada, hazard symbols have three sections: the picture (the type of danger) , the frame (which part of the product is dangerous) and the signal words (the degree of risk). Having the ability to identify the different parts can warn you about the dangers associated with the product before use. For full symbol definitions and more information, visit the Healthy Canadians. You can also find a list of product recalls and report any product related health concerns to the Government of Canada at the bottom of the page.
Household products are still chemicals and should always be handled with caution in order to keep your family and pets safe.