Holidaymakers must take care this festive season when using and storing chemicals in the household.

The Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association’s (CAIA) Responsible Care advises holidaymakers to take care this festive season when using and storing chemicals in the household.

‘‘It is just as important at home and on holiday as it is in industry, to protect the health of people  and pets, and to safeguard property and the environment. Some chemicals are poisonous if inhaled or ingested and can burn or irritate the eyes or skin, while others can cause fires or explosions if they are under pressure or react with other substances. ‘’Says Responsible Care Manager, Louise Lindeque.

It is important for people to know the chemical substances that are in their homes and the potential hazards that they pose. Some of the most common potentially hazardous chemicals that are found in the home include:

  • Paint products; like oil-based paints, varnishes, thinners.
  • Cleaning agents; like bleach, drain cleaners, laundry detergent and dishwasher tablets.
  • Car products; like motor oil, petrol, battery fluid, anti-freeze.
  • Recreational supplies; like glue, photo developing chemicals, lighter fluid.
  • Gardening products; like pesticides, fertiliser, chlorine, rat poison, insect sprays.
  • Medical and toiletry products; like hair colourants, wound disinfectant, medicines.

These household chemicals must only be used according to their instructions and their intended purpose. Labels provide important storage information, by indicating the severity of the potential hazard and what to avoid. The more dangerous the product is,  more care  needs to be taken to store and use it properly.

The potential harm of these chemicals can be managed by knowing their potential hazard, assessing their risk and preventing exposure to the chemicals.   The storage and usage of chemicals can be managed effectively by:

  • Reading the labels on chemicals for advice about potential hazards
  • Storing potentially hazardous household products in a locked cupboard at a height that children cannot easily reach.
  • Keeping chemicals in the original containers only, with warning labels and usage instructions intact.
  • Check  labels for incompatibility information as many chemicals should not be stored or used together
  • Storing pesticides, pool chemicals and flammable chemicals outside the house.
  • Storing products away from heat and sunlight, in a well-ventilated area.
  • Storing products by type, for example, pesticides on one shelf and paints on another.

If you will be renting or staying at a holiday home that is often vacant, is it worth checking the garage and cleaning cupboards to ensure that the chemicals are stored safely. “Managing chemicals in the household will benefit your family, community and the environment,” says Lindeque.

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