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Garage/Workshop chemical safety

Fact

Chemicals are usually stored in garages and workshops and can include: solvents such as kerosene, methylated spirits and paint thinners, swimming pool chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, fertilizers, LPG cylinders, petrol and other fuels.

We often think we know how to use and store these chemicals and don't read the safety information. Many accidents occur due to unsafe storage practices. Chemicals may be toxic, flammable or may react violently when mixed.

Chemicals may be toxic, flammable or may react violently when mixed.

Tips for Safe Chemical Storage and Use

The fire services recommend this simple safety checklist:

  • Read the label before purchasing any chemical. Understand the correct use and the dangers posed by the chemical.
  • Choose the least dangerous product that will do the job, especially if children are present.
  • Lock chemicals in a cabinet out of the reach of children. Remember children are curious, inventive and good climbers.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Handle with extreme caution.
  • Use recommended protective equipment: gloves, safety goggles, trousers and long-sleeved shirts are a minimum. Ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Seal chemicals in their original containers.
  • Do not reuse empty containers or repack product in different containers.
  • When recharging car, motorcycle or boat batteries, loosen the caps on the battery cells, ventilate the area, turn off all electrical appliances in the vicinity.
  • Do not mix chemicals.
  • Do not prepare more chemical than you need for the job.
  • Do not use chemicals for jobs for which they are not intended.
  • Do not pour chemicals down the drain, the toilet or the gutter.
  • Do not use tools that generate heat or sparks near flammable items.

Action

  • Have you inspected your chemical storage areas and container seals recently?
  • Have you contacted your local council to discard old or leftover chemicals? (See Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW [external link])
  • Follow first-aid instructions. If skin or eyes are burnt, if chemical has been swallowed or ingested or fumes inhaled - seek immediate medical attention.
  • Remember the Poisons Information Line: 131 126

In an Emergency Call Triple Zero (000)

A collaboration of the Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service, ACT Fire Brigade and ACT Rural Fire Service