Aerosol cans are commonly used as a means of holding and dispensing various products, such as deodorant, hairspray, cleaning products and spray paint. But whilst they’re a functional form of product, the very nature of aerosols can pose some dangers to children, especially if used in the wrong way. We take a look at some of the aerosol safety issues to be aware of.
What Is An Aerosol?
An aerosol is a form of pressurised container that holds a concentrated form of substance, such as a deodorant, cleaning product or paint. The substance is released by pressing a nozzle on the top of the container, which emits the substance as a fine spray.
Aerosols are widely used and commonly found in the home, but there are some safety issues involved with them, which parents should be aware of.
What Dangers Can Aerosols Pose?
Some of the main dangers surrounding aerosols are linked to the fact that they’re in a pressurised container. Whilst the pressure serves its purpose well and substances can be released easily when required, if adverse circumstances occur, aerosol cans can potentially burst, burn or explode.
There can also be safety issues regarding how the product is used. For example, it’s important to ensure children know that an aerosol should never be sprayed at someone’s face, should only be sprayed in a couple of short bursts and that, as the contents are concentrated, you may need to open a window or ensure a good air flow through a room if using the products indoors.
How To Use Aerosols Safely At Home
Here are some safety tips for using aerosols safely at home:
- Always follow the product instructions – in most cases you’ll only need to use the product in short bursts, so don’t exceed this.
- If you’re using an aerosol cleaning product or paint spray, avoid doing so in a confined space. Open doors or windows and let air come through, as the product is concentrated and the fumes can be strong.
- Avoid spraying aerosols near your face or eyes, as the products can cause irritation to eyes.
- Avoid spraying aerosols near fires or naked flames, as the product may well be flammable.
- Do not smoke when you’re using an aerosol, or light a cigarette just afterwards, due to the flammable nature of many products.
How To Safely Store Aerosols
When it comes to storing aerosols, there are some more safety recommendations to take into account, to avoid any accidents.
Ideally, aerosols should be kept well out of the sun, in a cool, dry place. If aerosol cans do become hot, the pressure will increase inside the can, which can lead to them bursting open and exploding. In the case of deodorants or hairsprays, most bathrooms should provide adequate and safe storage.
It’s also beneficial to avoid leaving an aerosol inside a car, both during the summer and winter, as increased heat inside a car could lead to the product exploding. If you do need to keep a product in your car, it’s much safer to store it in the boot.
It’s recommended that you keep aerosol products such as cleaning materials, adhesives or spray paints well out of the reach of children. Store them on a high shelf or keep them locked away from curious young children.
When you’ve been using the products, remember to replace the caps and put them back out of use – don’t leave them lying around.
Empty aerosol cans should be removed, thrown out and, where appropriate recycled. Don’t be tempted to pierce an empty aerosol can, as the container may still have a degree of pressure inside, as well as residues of the contents. It could be flammable or cause injury if the container is damaged.
Likewise, you should never put an empty or full aerosol can on a bonfire – they will explode and could cause serious injury.
What Is Aerosol Abuse?
Aerosol abuse, or volatile substance abuse as it’s sometimes called, are used to describe situations were people use aerosols as a means to get high. This is done through sniffing the fumes of the products, which can cause intoxication, and is a form of solvent abuse.
All sorts of widely available aerosols, and many that you may keep at home, can be used for sniffing. It’s an extremely dangerous habit and in some cases can cause instant death.
When you’re educating your child about the dangers of drug abuse, it’s beneficial to discuss solvent abuse too, ensure they know the dangers and know what to do if someone they know is abusing solvents.