Warning about household chemicals

July 25, 2011 9:24:33 PM PDT
Every household needs to pay close attention to this story.

Many families use and keep all kinds of chemicals in their homes, garages, and sheds. They are common chemicals like pool chlorine and gas for lawnmowers, cars, and generators.

The problem is, particularly with our extreme summer weather, there is a potential for those chemicals to interact and combust. It happened to the Tinari family of Langhorne, Bucks County.

Their backyard shed exploded.

The explosion was so strong, it not only blew off the shed's doors, it sent the Tinari's son flying 30 feet into the air.

The Tinari's 28-year-old son was rushed to the hospital with second degree burns over 30 percent of his body.

But the Tinari's say the consequences could have been even worse.

"We are lucky, as well as the little kids who were playing behind the fence, and if you walk through the neighborhood, you'll see a storage shed about anywhere you go and you'll probably find both chlorine and gasoline in there," Steve Tinari said.

The Tinaris had chlorine for their pool and gas for their generator stored right next to each other in their shed and the Tinaris accidentally sprayed both chemicals in the same spot in their backyard.

"Two very common chemicals, a little bit mixing together has very explosive results," Ray Hackman, the Hazmat coordinator for Bucks County, said.

Hackman says the heat mixed with humidity makes for an especially dangerous recipe.

"If they're not putting away the containers properly, a little bit of moisture, mixed in with the chlorine, can actually make [the pellets] start to dissolve or react and those containers will start to get hot and melt," Hackman said.

So Hackman says you need to take some simple precautions.

Never mix chemicals unless recommended by the product's manufacturer.

Store chemicals in a cool place.

Make sure they are closed and capped so the fumes don't mix.

Separate different chemicals away from one another

"They shouldn't be touching each other. There needs to be an obvious gap between the materials so airflow can keep things well ventilated. That is very important," Hackman said.

Also try not to buy and store more chlorine or other chemicals than you really need.

"The concern we all have as the emergency responders is come the end of the pool season, what are people doing with this product?" Hackman said.

Hackman says all too often people end up disposing of the chemicals improperly.

Now if you do end up in a situation like the Tinari's, evacuate immediately, keep everyone at a safe distance, and call 911.

Let the experts handle it.

Also never store gasoline inside your home and keep any chemicals out of reach of children.

LINKS: Household Safety Safe Use & Storage of Hazardous Household Products 10+ Questions About Household Products