Silica is basically drying agent that is used to eliminate humidity from any sealed off space. You can commonly find silica gel packs in packaging of purses, shoes or medication bottles. Take note that these gels are a form of silicic acid that is quite similar to sand.
Always bear in mind that silica gel is non-toxic but it does not mean that they are not harmful. If you look closely at the package, it is indicated “DO NOT EAT” since it is not food and can be considered as a choking hazard. The gels or packet itself can become lodges in the throat especially in young children or pets.
Safety tips on silica gel
- Once you purchase a new pair of shoes or a bag, check for the silica gel packet inside and throw it away immediately.
- Inspect for several packets since they can come in two or three packets.
- When disposing a silica gel packet, it is best to break it open and discard so that it will not be swallowed whole.
Important considerations when dealing with silica gel packets
Always bear in mind that silica gel packs are utilized in the packaging process for various products to keep out moisture and usually have warning labels. Some of the products that utilize the silica gel packets include food, leather shoes, medications and electronics. With the main objective of keeping the moisture out, it also helps prevent mold, mildew and corrosion.
In most cases, adults should call the poison control center or immediately call for emergency assistance since children or pets can swallow the contents of the packets. Once you have opened items that have silica gel packets, they must be thrown away or placed out of reach of children and animals. The silica gel is not toxic but it can cause discomfort.
Exposure to silica gel
In case the silica gel packets are ingested, they do not pose a threat to the body. The purpose of the packet is to remove humidity from the surrounding area and this is what it will do if it comes into contact with the lips, skin, tongue, face, hands and any skin surface, resulting to dryness and irritation.
If the substance is touched if the packet has been opened and then the hands come in contact with the eyes, it can lead to eye irritation. If ingested, the silica gel can lead to dehydration or an upset stomach. In case the silica gel is chewed before swallowing, it can also be inhaled, resulting to a cough.
Treatment for silica gel exposure
The initial first aid measure is to wash the area exposure to silica gel using water and mild soap. After the skin is cleaned, you have to apply a hydrating lotion that will prevent excessive drying of the skin. In case the eye is irritated after exposure, you have to rinse the eyes with fresh water for 15 minutes. If the individual is wearing contact lenses, it should be removed before flushing the eyes.
In case silica gel was ingested, the individual should be given drinking water in order to minimize stomach distress. With increased intake of water, it can also help prevent possible dehydration. It is best not to induce vomiting in order to eliminate the silica gel.
If silica gel is inhaled, transfer the individual to an area with fresh air. Oxygen therapy is utilized if the individual is having difficulties breathing. In case of distress in any form right after being exposed to silica gel, it is best to get in touch with the poison control center or call for emergency assistance right away.