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Four Seasons 2 - Poisoning Hazards For Winter

Four Seasons 2 - Poisoning Hazards For Winter

Winter means shorter days and evenings spent indoors. While it is pleasant to be in a cosy environment, it is important to be aware that poisonings can still occur.

Home Heating
Medicines
Hot Packs
Antifreeze

Home Heating

LPG heaters (gas heaters) are convenient and safe to use as directed. However, if they are left on for long periods of time, or in a room which is not ventilated, they can cause poisoning. Some LPG heaters burn inefficiently, meaning they produce carbon monoxide gas, which is highly toxic.

  • Always have the LPG cylinder and the heater checked by a qualified technician at the beginning of the winter season to ensure they are safe to use.
  • If your heater has black scorch or smoke marks on it, it may be producing carbon monoxide. You should not use it until it has been checked by a technician.
  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation in the rooms heated by LPG heaters
  • Never use this type of heater in rooms used for sleeping

Other forms of heating can also cause health concerns:

  • If your chimney is not cleaned, open fires can release smoke into the room, causing respiratory complaints and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Firelighter blocks and matches used to start fires can pose a moderate risk to children and pets if they are ingested. Always keep matches and firelighters out of the reach of children and animals.

Medicines

Winter means colds and flus and associated use of cold and flu preparations. When used as directed, these preparations are safe and effective. However when over- used or used in combination there is a risk of toxicity occurring.

  • It is important when using any cold and flu preparations that the recommended dose is followed and no extra pain relief is taken.
  • Many cold and flu preparations contain the same or similar ingredients (e.g. paracetamol). Make sure you are not doubling up by checking the packet, and always ask your pharmacist first.
  • Ensure the medication is not left where young children can get access such as in a handbag or on a bedside table

Heat Packs

Portable heating pads are a popular winter aid that can be carried in pockets to provide a small heat source in the colder weather.

  • If these packs are ruptured, skin irritation may occur
  • The contents can also be irritating if they get in the eye
  • If a pack breaks, discard and wash affected area with soap and water
  • Follow the instructions on the pack to avoid any potential thermal burns or frostbite from the use of this product

Antifreeze

This common motoring additive is useful in the winter months to ensure the radiator water does not freeze. Antifreeze can cause serious toxicity even in very small amounts.

  • Ensure the antifreeze remains in the original container
  • Always make sure chemicals are kept well out of the reach of children and pets
  • If antifreeze is spilled, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned up; small children and pets can be poisoned by licking residue from the floor


Related Resources
Plants That Poison - A New Zealand Guide - A colourful, informative and easy-to-use book every NZ home should have
Prevent Poisoning: Keeping Children Safe From Poisons - A brochure on general poisoning prevention information including home safety tips


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University of Otago NZ National Poisons Centre


Last updated 11/03/2009



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