Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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July 7, 2006

Safety Tips from the Local Emergency Planning Committee –

Store and Use Chemicals Safely During Summer Home and Garden Projects

Summer is the perfect time to do outdoor projects, in the garden and around the home. But many products used in household projects contain chemicals that can be dangerous if stored improperly or mixed with other chemicals. The Oswego County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) reminds people to take proper precautions to prevent fires and other accidents when using chemicals around the home.

Chemicals stored in garages and workshops may include herbicides and pesticides; insecticides; fungicides and wood preservatives; fertilizers; swimming pool chemicals; solvents such as kerosene and paint thinners; paint strippers and removers; propane cylinders, gasoline, diesel fuel, oil and lighter fluid; adhesives and glues; and oil- or enamel-based paints.

The LEPC urges people to follow these guidelines for buying, storing and using hazardous household chemicals:

  • Read the label before you purchase a chemical product. Make sure you understand the correct use and the dangers posed by the product.
  • Choose the least dangerous product that will do the job, especially when children are present.
  • Buy only as much of a chemical product as you think you will use. Leftover material can be shared with neighbors.
  • Keep products containing hazardous materials in their original containers, and do not remove the label unless the container is corroding. Corroding containers should be repackaged and clearly labeled.
  • Never store hazardous products in food containers.
  • Lock chemicals in a cabinet out of the reach of children.
  • Never mix household hazardous chemicals with waste or other products. Incompatibles, such as chlorine bleach and ammonia, may react, ignite or explode.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Use recommended protective equipment. Make sure there is adequate ventilation.
  • Do not use chemicals for jobs for which they are not intended.
  • Do not pour chemicals down the drain, the toilet, or the gutter.
  • Do not use tools that generate heat or sparks near flammable items.
  • Never smoke while using household chemicals.
  • Never use hair spray, cleaning solutions, paint products, or pesticides near an open flame (e.g., pilot light, lighted candle, fireplace, wood burning stove, etc.). Although you may not be able to see or smell them, vapors or particles in the air could catch fire or explode.
  • Clean up any chemical spill immediately. Use rags to clean up the spill. Wear gloves and use eye protection. Allow the fumes in the rags to evaporate outdoors, and then dispose of them according to the chemical manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Dispose of hazardous materials correctly.

During a household chemical emergency, if there is danger of fire or explosion:

  • Get out of the residence immediately. Call the fire department from outside (a cellular phone or a neighbor’s phone) once you are safely away from danger.
  • Stay upwind and away from the residence to avoid breathing toxic fumes.

If someone is exposed to a toxic chemical, find a container of the substance to provide information to the emergency dispatcher, and call 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. Follow the emergency operator or dispatcher’s first-aid instructions carefully. The first-aid advice found on containers may be out-of-date or inappropriate. Do not give anything by mouth unless advised to do so by a medical professional.

For more information about emergency planning for families, call the Oswego County Emergency Management Office at 591-9150.

Source: "Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preapredness" by FEMA and Citizen Corps.

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