Winter Salt Risks
Baby its cold outside! With the temperature dropping the use of ice melt and winter salt products is climbing…along with pet and human exposures.
What is winter salt?
The products are desirable because they lower the freezing point of water and help “melt” top layers of ice and/or snow. Most of them contain sodium chloride or rock salt but some also contain calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, and/or urea.
What are the potential effects in children?
Children often find these products interesting, and as a result try a taste. A small granule is usually not a problem for a child, but irritation can occur. However, too much sodium chloride or products containing electrolytes may be toxic in large ingestions. It is often difficult to determine the amount a child may have ingested, therefore, it is critical to get a detailed history and for parents to monitor for symptoms. A common symptom observed after ingestion is vomiting, and often when symptoms occur, an emergency room observation and/or treatment may be recommended. Seizures are of great concern to humans and pets with ingestion of these products.
What about our furry friends?
Pets are often exposed to these chemicals via their paws. These products can cause irritation and dryness but can also be toxic if enough is ingested. For dermal contact it’s recommended to wipe the product off their paws and/or fur and then gently wash the remainder off. When ingested, drooling and vomiting could be a warning sign and just as in humans, seizures can occur. Veterinarians should be notified right away if any symptoms develop or if there is reason to believe a large amount was ingested.
Ice melting products are designed to help us deal with some of the discomforts and dangers of winter. However, we must protect our little loves and our furry companions. Have a safe, warm and healthy winter.
Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center (DPIC)
DPICtions Fall 2014
Avaialable at http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/service/d/dpic/community/newsletters/