JANUARY 18, 2017

5 hazardous spills in the home and how to deal with them

In the movies, poorly contained chemicals are often the catalyst for adventure. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, the Hulk. All of them are the result of a chemical accident or chemical-related mishap. Though, in reality, chemical and hazardous spills are less fun. They’re more likely to give you a nasty injury than superpowers. In fact, some of the injuries associated with chemical spills in the home can be very serious.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to contain dangerous spills, quickly and safely. Remember these tips, for when you next encounter a chemical cleaner spill, oil slick or radioactive spider. It could save you a lot of trouble.

  1. Pesticides

Many of us keep pesticides in our sheds, laundries or garages. They’re one of the most effective and convenient ways of handling pests and insects – sorry Ant-Man.

However, the active ingredients in pesticide sprays and liquids can also harm humans and their pets. So, it is essential that any spills are dealt with promptly and completely.

When cleaning pesticide spills, ensure you wear protective equipment such as a good thick pair of rubber gloves. And when you’re done, dispose of any cleaning tools such as absorbents, towels or sponges in a thick garbage bag for disposal in landfill.

Improperly discarded cleaning equipment can be just as dangerous as the initial spill itself.

  1. Cooking fat and oil spills

Whether it’s the thick rind on a slab of bacon or the light drizzling of olive oil on a salad, cooking fats and oils make dishes better. It’s a fact. No matter what your dieting friends say.

Spilt on the floor of your kitchen, though, cooking oils can become dangerous. And not only for your waistline.

Falls and the resulting injuries are too common in household kitchens. Bruises, sprains and breaks can all occur due to spilt oil. Even a few drops can be enough to cause an incident.

What’s more, cleaning up cooking oil can be a slippery business.

Start with paper towel to absorb the oil. Then apply a sponge to wipe away the remaining materials. Finish with grease-fighting dishwashing liquid and a mop. Avoid the area until it is dry and safe to walk on again.

  1. Abrasive cleaners and detergents

It’s happened to us all. You squeeze the cleaner bottle too hard or accidently knock over an uncapped container. The slip of a hand and suddenly a little abrasive cleaner on the tiles becomes veritable ocean. An ocean which no one wants to swim in – sorry Aquaman.

In this situation, there may be a temptation to attempt to continue cleaning. To use the Niagara Falls of cleaner spills as if you intended to pour that much out of the bottle.

This can be dangerous for two reasons.

One, abrasive cleaners can emit toxic fumes. Especially in confined environments, this can result in fume inhalation, loss of consciousness and a fall onto tiles or bathroom equipment.

Two, some cleaners can irritate the skin and cause rashes. While this can be avoided with appropriate protective equipment, large volumes of cleaner are known to splash and drip onto exposed skin elsewhere.

So before cleaning further, mop up the excess abrasive cleaner with paper towel.

  1. Spills involving broken glass

The only superhero to result from a spill involving broken glass is the unfortunately-super-powered Glass Man. A superhero known for going to pieces in his first ever battle; the result of his famous ‘glass chin’.

Similarly, spills involving glass in your home can only result in harm to you or your family. If you drop a liquid-filled bottle, vase or cup, you’ll need to clean it up properly to avoid small shards from resurfacing later.

Avoid using a broom. This can push shards away and into hard to reach places. Instead, put on thick rubber gloves, and if you haven’t already, slip on shoes.

Pick up the larger pieces. You may want to use newspaper too for greater protection. Then dispose of the glass and newspaper in a thick plastic bag. Use a vacuum to suck up the remaining fragments and paper towel to soak up the liquid.

Check well around the point of impact. You’d be amazed how far broken glass can fly.

  1. Paint

A new coat of paint looks terrific on the wall, but less so on your floor. A spilt paint can quickly put a damper on your home DIY paint plans. But don’t panic. Paint spills can be dealt with, provided you act promptly.

Should you spill paint on your wood floor or even worse your carpet, act quickly, before the paint dries. Scoop up as much of the paint as you can and dispose of it in either the paint can or a separate container.

Acrylic paints can often be washed away from carpet, tiles and wood with water. Simply wet the area and blot away the paint with a sponge. Detergent may also help.

Oil-based paints are trickier. You can thin the paint with mineral turpentine. Then blot away the stain. Rinse with water and leave to dry. Remember to be very careful with paint thinners, as they can affect your flooring.

If the paint has dried, things will be more difficult again. On hard surfaces, you can apply rubbing alcohol and wipe away with paper towel. You can also try a paint scraper, however, use extreme caution, scraping your floor can damage the finish, fast.

On oil-based paints, use mineral turpentine or methylated spirits to soften the paint. In a worst-case scenario, you may need to purchase a paint stripper to deal with the spill. Again, use caution to avoid damaging your floor.

Author: SpillPro is Australia’s leading supplier of commercial spill management products and services. And now with a more than 40 year history, SpillPro is one of Australasia’s most recognisable and trusted names in the field of spill prevention and management.

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