Good for Your Car, Bad for Your Kids and Pets
We couldn't drive anywhere without it. But only small amounts are dangerous if your children, pets, or anyone else swallows it. Here's what you need to know.
Why would anyone swallow antifreeze? Children swallow ANYTHING they can reach, just because it's there. Pets lap it up because it's sweet. Adults have been poisoned because someone poured antifreeze into soft drink containers. Antifreeze naturally has a sweet taste, so even adults can be fooled.
How does antifreeze harm you? Antifreeze is tricky. For several hours after someone swallows it, everything seems fine. But the body is busy breaking down the antifreeze (ethylene glycol) into a number of substances that affect your blood chemistry, nervous system, and kidneys. After a few hours, someone poisoned by antifreeze may seem drunk or groggy and complain of stomach distress. After a few more hours, the victim may go into a coma. The kidneys can be damaged and stop making urine. If the victim survives, there may be permanent damage to the kidneys and brain.
How is antifreeze poisoning treated? The best time to treat is BEFORE symptoms develop!! If you think someone has swallowed antifreeze, call the poison center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center experts will tell you exactly what to do. If hospital care is needed, treatment may include an IV antidote and kidney dialysis.
How do I prevent antifreeze poisoning?
Children (and pets) won't swallow or touch anything that's out of their sight and reach. Store antifreeze in its original container, locked where children can't see or reach it. Don't use antifreeze when children or pets are around. Re-close the cap tightly after use. Clean up any spills or leaks immediately. And never transfer antifreeze to another container, especially a food or drink container.
Is there a safer product?
If antifreeze is dangerous to swallow, why does it taste so good?
I change my own antifreeze. What should I do with the old antifreeze?