Thursday, December 19, 2013

Every Home Needs an Eye Wash

High school and college chemistry labs are equipped with eye wash stations. When I was a kid learning first aid, we were told that every home needs an eye cup. This horrified me greatly because let's face it - putting stuff in your eyes is scary. And no, I don't wear contacts, how did you guess?

Fast forward a few decades. I work in a lab some days so yes, we have the necessary safety stuff. But what really got me was spraying medicine on my dog's tail at home. I sprayed upwards to treat the underside (duh!) and lots of dog medicine landed on my eyeball.

On my sprint to the bathroom to wash hands first I realized I didn't have any sterile saline. I gushed eyedrops into my stinging eye. No good. I went to the kitchen, filled a glass with water and poured it over my smarting eye several times. Much better - but now my eye was sore and bloodshot from the saline-free tap water.

This sort of thing can happen any time. Spray-on products, preservatives or additives you might use to make cosmetics, vinegar or disinfectants, drain cleaner, sawdust, that eyelash that fell in your eye, small winged insects you can't extricate...

Every home needs at least one thing for eye safety: Sterile Saline (irrigating) solution. Absolutely not contact lens cleaner. Not in a spray can. In a bottle. It's just salty enough to make eye washing less painful. It's sterile. It has a long shelf life. And you can use it to wash other wounds because it hurts much less than washing with tap water.

If you can find an eye cup, great! Otherwise keep some small paper cups or a shot glass handy for eye washing.

I'm not kidding. We don't wear safety glasses nearly often enough when handling eye-damaging chemicals that you would be required to wear safety glasses to use in a laboratory.

Don't mess around with eye safety. Keep these things in the house. Use them. If you use cleaners or any sort of chemicals at your work - these things should be provided by your employer.

If something gets in your eye and it hurts, wash it out. Who cares if your face or hair gets messed up or your clothes get wet? Your eyes are more important.

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