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Special Health Topics

Spring Safety

During the spring months, many people spruce up their homes, autos and yards. Although these home and garden projects can be good for the soul, they also carry some health risks from the use of cleaning and gardening products. Before you tackle these tasks, keep in mind some simple safety guidelines.

Open windows

Vent the area that you are cleaning by turning on exhaust fans and opening windows. Inhaling fumes can irritate the eyes, nasal passages, throat and lungs. Occasionally headaches and dizziness can occur. If any symptoms arise, leave the area and get fresh air. Call the American Association of Poison Control Centers,(AAPCC) for further advice. Their phone number is: 1-800-222-1222

Use glove

Don't forget to use rubber gloves if your hands will be in cleaning solutions. Wash and rinse accidental splashes to the skin immediately. If a solution gets in your eyes, remove any contact lenses and flush with a gentle stream of room-temperature water, while blinking, for 15 minutes. Call the Poison Control Center for further advice.

The toxicity and effects of cleaning products vary widely. While glass cleaners usually only irritate, many all-purpose and bathroom cleaners can be corrosive. A lick of most furniture polishes may cause mouth and throat irritation, but a swallow could lead to chemical pneumonia - especially if ingestion includes coughing or choking. Some car polishes and cleaners cause only irritation, but there are many others that can cause tissue burns.

Garden with care

Gardening is a wonderful hobby, but make it a safe pastime. Check all label instructions before you use any gardening chemicals and wear the proper suggested gear. Fertilizers are usually only an irritant, but those with pesticides can have toxic effects. When you are uncertain about a product, call the Poison Control Center. Better yet, find an organic way to deal with your gardening challenges.

Store products safely

When you have completed your job, secure all products in a locked area away from children and pets. Be sure to keep them in their original containers, so they won't be mistaken for something else.

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