This post goes out to the all the Dads trying to make Mother’s Day special. You may want to let Mom sit back and relax while you provide some household cleaning, help out with daily medications for the kids, or possibly even get the little critters involved in a little craft making! All of these are great ideas and traditions, but need to be handled with care.
Here are some tips to keep you, Mom, and the kids safe:
1. When using various cleaning products, it is not recommended to mix different cleaning solutions together, as toxic gas fumes can result!
Some people think that mixing cleaning solutions together make them better and more powerful, but this is actually quite dangerous!
Mixing household bleach with acidic toilet bowl cleaner creates chlorine gas. How toxic can this be? Chlorine gas was used as a chemical warfare agent in WWI; it is pretty bad stuff. Depending on the amount of gas created and duration of exposure, chlorine gas can cause severe eye and respiratory tract irritation: symptoms include red, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, cough, chest burning and tightness, or perhaps difficulty breathing. These symptoms may be intensified in patients with underlying respiratory disorders, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Anyone exposed to chlorine gas should move to fresh air imediately. Most people have few symptoms as the time they are exposed is short, but occasionally serious cases may be referred to the emergency department for more treatment.
Another harmful combination is ammonia mixed with bleach. These two substances, when mixed, create chloramine gas causing similar symptoms as mentioned above. Although similar in symptoms, exposures to chlorine gas and chloramine gas are actually treated in different manners. It is important to seek advice from the Illinois Poison Center if symptoms develop. The take home point: read cleaning supply instructions carefully before use and do not mix “a little of this and that” to make a “super” cleaner.
2. When a simple children’s dose becomes an overdose….
It is extremely important to use an appropriate measuring device when giving liquid medications. Most over-the-counter products will come with their own measuring device, such as a measuring cup or oral syringe. If the medication was dispensed at a pharmacy, make sure to check the bag for a measuring device or ask the pharmacist to provide you with one. There have been many reports of under or overdosing a liquid medication when using a household spoon, simply because there is no standard size for household spoons. In order to prevent dosing errors, make sure to use a device that is clearly marked with dosing units. Most measuring devices provide markings for milliliters and/or teaspoonfuls. If you have any questions on how to draw up the appropriate dose, bring the medication and measuring device into a local pharmacy for a pharmacist to demonstrate proper use or, call the IPC.
Here is a guide to help you convert measuring units:
1 teaspoonful = 5 milliliters
1 tablespoonful = 15 milliliters
1 ounce = 30 milliliters
Another good tip is to keep a time log of when a medication was given. Another common medication error we see here at the IPC, is that a child will receive multiple doses of medications if parents do not communicate with each other on the dosing schedule. A log is a simple way to let everyone know when the last dose was given. Keep the log in the same place as the medication as a ready reminder! Below is a sample log to get you started:
|Date||Medication/Dose||Amount Given||Time Given||By Whom|
|5/13/2012||Acetaminophen 160 mg||1.8 milliliters||1:00 pm||Dad|
3. Crafting projects and cards for Mom will always be appreciated.
It probably seems like your little kiddos put anything and everything in their mouths, including arts and crafts supplies. These supplies can be a choking hazard, so it is advised to keep a close eye on the situation. Speaking of which, what happens when a kid decides to eat the glue? It may calm you to know that most crafting supplies are nontoxic or minimally toxic in small quantities (less than 1 mouthful): markers, ball point pen ink, crayons, modeling clay, felt tip markers and pens, or even children’s glue/paste. But note: not EVERY product is non-toxic, so always keep the Illinois Poison Centers phone number close by 1-800-222-1222. We are available at any time to help advise you on what to do in these situations.
If you have any more questions on cleaning products, proper medication dosing of children (or adults), crafting projects, or poisonous plants you can always contact the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for further assistance.
If you have the time, check out Illinois Poison Center Blog to read some of our “My Child Ate…” articles.