Winter can be a lot of fun for little kids, especially if your family lives in a place where they can play in the snow.
However, when the weather is cold, sometimes kids leave the backyard and look for warmth and entertainment in the garage. That is, after all, where you’re storing their sandbox toys, sports equipment, bikes, and tricycles.
There are also plenty of safety hazards that can cause harm to curious children who get bored and start to play with things they shouldn’t.
Parents should tell young children not to play in the garage unsupervised, but you can also be proactive about preventing potentially dangerous situations. The first step is being aware of safety risks in the garage.
The following products are commonly found in garages and should always be stored out of reach of young children. If the products come with child-resistant packaging, they should remain in that packaging and should not be transferred to another container.
It’s smart to make sure your car is ready to take on the winter season, but many of the fluids you use can be very harmful if accidentally ingested.
Two of the most potentially hazardous products stored in garages are antifreeze and brake fluid. That’s because these automotive fluids contain ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol (DEG) respectively.
Both ethylene glycol and DEG have a sweet flavor. So, a child won’t be repulsed by the taste and may continue drinking. While antifreeze is sold in containers with child-resistant safety caps, it is also commonly found in gallon jugs with colorful liquid. To a young child, this looks just like juice or Kool-Aid.
Ethylene glycol poisoning can be fatal. It is not easy to spot as a child won’t show any signs of poisoning until a few hours after consumption. Symptoms may include:
- Acting groggy or intoxicated
- Stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting
- Headaches, dizziness, and confusion
The best time to treat ethylene glycol poisoning is immediately after exposure. Call Poison Control right away if you suspect a child has consumed it (1-800-222-1222). If a victim survives, there will likely be kidney and nervous system damage.
If you change your car’s antifreeze yourself, make sure you properly dispose of the old liquid. Antifreeze can be recycled, but you will need to find out where hazardous household waste can be dropped off in your area.
You can also choose to purchase antifreeze made with propylene glycol, which is less harmful if consumed.
Window washer fluid is essential for winter driving, and most car owners have some on hand. However, the methanol in window washer fluid is a highly toxic alcohol, which the body breaks down into chemicals that could cause kidney failure, blindness, or death.
Because it is a bright blue liquid, children are naturally attracted to it. Putting some extra washer fluid in an empty soda bottle and storing it in your car may seem like a good idea, but you’re risking confusion and putting kids and adults at risk. Keep these fluids stored safely in a child-resistant container.
Road Salt and De-Icers
Salting slippery driveways and sidewalks will certainly help prevent the risk of slips and falls, but have you wondered whether toddlers and young children can be harmed if they eat road salt?
Consuming small amounts of ice melt shouldn’t be a concern, although excessive amounts could cause salt toxicity, also known as hypernatremia or salt poisoning. Too much sodium in the bloodstream can damage brain cells and may be fatal.
Poison Control says it gets many calls about children ingesting road salt. Usually, these situations are not cause for alarm. There may be some stomach distress and irritation if salt gets in their eyes, but drinking fluids and flushing the eyes with water will help.
It’s still important to practice safe storage with de-icing products to protect kids.
You may not think of that half empty bag of cement in your garage as a safety concern, but cement mix can cause chemical burns if it is ingested, inhaled, or comes in contact with skin.
The high pH level of cement mixed with water makes it caustic, which is why safety precautions should be taken when cement is being used for building and construction.
If your child accidentally comes in contact with cement, remove contaminated clothing and rinse any exposed body parts (including the mouth and lips) with cool water for at least 15 minutes.
Fertilizer, Pesticides, and Herbicides
You may have treated your lawn with fertilizer towards the end of autumn and have some left in the bag, or you may be storing products for your garden as you wait for springtime. Whatever the case may be, you should take safety precautions with agrochemicals in your garage.
The experts at Poison Control say, on its own, most fertilizer will cause no more than an upset stomach or irritation. The problem is that there are also fertilizers that contain weed killers and insecticides, which may expose young children to much more dangerous chemicals.
As with any household chemical, store these products out of reach and keep them in the original container. Many accidental exposures to lawn and garden products occur when they are transferred into unlabeled bottles and bags.
Homeowners with their own pool will use special chemicals to treat and winterize it when the weather gets cold. While your pool is closed for the winter, those products will likely be sitting in your garage.
Ingesting chlorine or inhaling fumes from the chemical is the most common type of accidental exposure related to pool chemicals. Besides chlorine, MedlinePlus lists these other substances found in pool chemicals as potentially dangerous:
- Calcium chloride
- Calcium hypochlorite
- Chelated copper
- Soda ash
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Various mild acids
The safety advice for pool shocks and related products is the same as any other household chemical, but it’s worth repeating. Store them safely out of reach from children and keep them in their original container, especially if it provides protection with child-resistant packaging.
Get more information on how to safely close your swimming pool here on our blog.
How Child-Guard® Provides Innovative Child-Resistant Packaging Technology for Your Home
Child-resistant packaging plays an important role as the first line of prevention against potentially dangerous situations.
That’s why we developed the Child-Guard® slider for use on flexible packaging. A growing number of products are being stored in this type of packaging, including lawn chemicals, pool chemicals, cement, and many other things you’ll find in the garage. Our child-resistant slider can be applied to keep kids out.
Using child-resistant flexible packaging technology, we can help keep kids safe, give caretakers time to react, and give parents peace of mind.
Learn more about Child-Guard® in the video below, and like us on Facebook to get more important news and safety advice for parents.
You can use the hashtag #guardit on social media to let everyone know what products you think could benefit from child-resistant packaging.