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Keeping Your Children Safe From Household Adhesives

Aug 17, 2007
Thinking back to your school days, wasn't it fun to use white paste to stick together multi-dimensional pictures for the holidays? Little construction paper pilgrims were pasted to a sky-blue backdrop with a separate paste-on of green hills or puffy clouds to make the picture more interesting. Washing up afterwards was messy, but fun, as you peeled off the white paste residue that had dried on your hands.

Nowadays kids still play with glue to make art projects in school, church, and other community programs. But some of the glue products today are stronger than those of yesteryear, like Super Glue, for example. Granted, kids should not be playing with this high-grade adhesive, but some parents are not as careful as they should be about things like this.

If your children are clamoring to make art projects or to use glue and paste for building models or repairing book pages, and things of that nature, teach them the right way to use adhesive products. Kids who don't know how to use these things correctly can cause problems by getting it on their clothes or school supplies, or having glue get in their hair or stuck to their skin. Using solvents to break down the adhesive is not particularly fun or safe, either. Here are a few guidelines to make adhesives' use safe for all:

1. Set up a contained work area. Whether you teach preschool, elementary grades, or any level of student, or simply let your kids play with glue at home, make them keep the products in a specified area to keep the glue from spilling throughout the house. This might be the kitchen table, for instance, where you lay out newspapers to cover the surface and let kids make things there. For larger-scale projects like building model cars or airplanes, a garage workshop or floor is a great place to spread out the newspapers and set up supplies.

2. Help kids dress for the part. While you can't necessarily dress them for school to work with glue, you can ask the teacher to provide coveralls for the clothes, even if they are the paper disposable kind. If the school is unable to cover this cost, ask for a letter to be sent home to parents requesting kids to bring in an old adult shirt for art days. Keep one for use at home, too.

3. Teach kids to use art products with caution. Help them read the labels and follow directions. Often, children approach artwork spontaneously, and they are less interested in the materials they use than in the final product. Help them understand the stickiness of glue and the need to handle it with care. Kids who assemble model cars or other objects should work with glue in a well-ventilated area to prevent the inhalation of fumes. Deliberately sniffing strongly scented materials like glue can lead to a temporary euphoric feeling that brings with it the risk of injury or death. Supervise your kids' use of glue and related products to be sure they don't misuse them.

Children that learn how to use these materials correctly should be able to manage more serious materials in the future, with proper guidance.
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