'Tis the season for snow! As many of us know, snow can be a fun and magical part of our holiday. But with the change of weather also comes the change in household items to help us through the winter. There are all kinds of chemicals commonly used to help manage the cold and ice. For the best poison prevention, recognize the top 5 winter toxins that may be found around your home this time of year.
1. Windshield De-Icer & Antifreeze
This common automotive product may contain ethylene glycol and methanol. If swallowed, they are broken down by the body into more toxic substances that cause damage to the kidneys, brain, and even the eyes (depending on the type). Antifreeze poisoning symptoms start with drowsiness, upset stomach, and symptoms of drunkenness. De-icer can cause similar initial symptoms along with blurred vision. Symptoms can progress to very severe effects.
2. Ice Melt
Ice melt products can be accidentally brought into the home from the bottom of shoes. Of course, a toddler will not only find it, but will put it right into their mouth. It’s important to sweep your front entrance regularly as well as check the bottoms of your shoes before putting them away. Keep the bags and buckets of any ice melt product out of sight and reach of children because their salt content can be a problem if swallowed in large enough amounts.
3. Lock De-Icer
Lock de-icers are small aerosol containers specifically designed for frozen automobile door locks. They usually contain isopropyl alcohol, the same ingredient in rubbing alcohol. This is upsetting to the stomach and may cause vomiting. A single spray in the mouth is not expected to cause more than a bad taste and possible upset stomach, but in larger amounts, it can cause more serious symptoms.
4. Waterproofing Spray
Waterproofing spray helps keep moisture out during the cold, wet days of winter. Many people spray it on boots to keep their feet dry while trudging through the snow. These products can contain fluorocarbon polymers, a chemical, which may cause irritation or injury to the lungs if inhaled. Always spray outside or in a well-ventilated area and avoid spraying in windy conditions.
5. Hand Warmers
Popular hand warmers, such as HotHands®, are made of iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal, and vermiculite. These ingredients react together when exposed to air to cause the warming sensation. Due to the iron content, there is a potential for toxicity if ingested, although this is not expected from the usual small exposure to the product. Symptoms of iron toxicity may include persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, and blood in the vomit.
If ANY of the above products are ingested, call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222, even if it was just a small amount. Specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24/7/365. The service is free and confidential.