Health Watch -- Spring-cleaning Safety

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

When you drag out the cleansers to give your house a spring-cleaning, make sure you don't put your children at risk.

At this time of year it's common to give the house a good once-over to spruce it up for warmer weather. But the chemicals and cleansers you use for the task can be harmful to children if they're accidentally touched or swallowed.

Pediatricians at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say it only takes a few minutes out of sight for a child to get into a dangerous substance, and some of these things don't take much longer than that to kill. Substances like mothballs, drain cleaners, insecticides and polishes all can be deadly. The youngest children are most at risk from accidental poisoning.

Dr. Robert Wiebe, a UT Southwestern pediatrician, says you should keep these substances locked up, in childproof containers and out of reach of children. While you're using them, keep them in range of your sight, and don't leave them unattended. Don't store these substances in other containers, especially not containers that look like they might hold food or drinks.

No matter how cautious you are, children have a knack for getting into things they shouldn't, so you should be prepared for the worst. Keep the number for your local poison control center by the telephone so you can find it immediately in an emergency.