Work became personal this week.
I write about oil and gasoline and related issues almost daily, but gasoline safety in a moment moved from the theoretical to extremely personal last weekend when my 7-year-old daughter decided it was a good idea to see what gasoline tastes like.
I keep our gas can, fertilizer, weed killer and other dangerous chemicals locked in the shed in our backyard.
But when I was mowing the yard that weekend, I left the doors open.
At 7 and 4, my children have outgrown toddlerhood, and my wife and I have grown a bit more lax on childproofing the house.
The thought didn't even cross my mind that they would get into the shed while I was working on the yard — until my daughters walked by, reeking of the smell of gasoline.
I was upset enough when I thought they were messing with the gas can and spilled some on themselves.
I panicked when my youngest said my oldest had poured the gasoline into a tablespoon and swallowed it in one gulp.
I had the girls halfway to the van and was headed to the emergency room when my wife called
Swallowing small amounts of fuel, apparently, leads only to an upset stomach and some particularly nasty-smelling burps.
But if the gasoline had made its way to her lungs, things would have been much more serious.
Since she wasn't coughing and complained only of a mild tummy ache, poison control advised putting off the trip to the ER. Instead, we made her drink as much water as she could stand all afternoon, watched her every second and questioned her every move.
It was a scary afternoon, but apparently there was no permanent damage.
My wife made the right decision by calling poison control before heading to the emergency room, said Randy Badillo, clinical supervisor at the Oklahoma Poison Control Center.
“Usually the emergency department is going to refer them to us anyway,” he said. “It depends on what the child ingested as to how it should be treated.”
All dangerous chemicals and products should be locked up and stored out of the reach of children, Badillo said.
Also, it is important to keep everything in its original container.
“If someone calls and they don't know what the child ingested, I have to assume the worst-case scenario that it is antifreeze or fertilizer,” Badillo said.
Poison control can make a much faster and more accurate diagnosis and plan of action if the caller knows exactly what the child got her hands on.
From now on, we will be much more vigilant about household chemical safety.
The shed now remains locked 24/7, even when I'm working in the yard. My wife and I also discussed with our daughters the danger of eating, drinking, touching or even looking too closely at gasoline, fertilizer, weed killer, bleach and other harmful chemicals.
Calling Poison Control
The Oklahoma Poison Control Center can be reached 24 hours a day at (800) 222-1222.