Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More Potty Talk

Nothin' like a call to Poison Control to make you smile!

So I was cleaning the toilets yesterday because I am a very conscientious homemaker whose toilets are always sparkling white the FlyLady told me to and of course the girls wanted to help. Stick a brush in the potty and swish it around? They are so there!

I had just wiped around the outside and top with one of those pre-moistened cleaning wipes (the kind that should have bleach in it based on the name, but doesn't actually) and then squirted the inside with a kind of cleanser that is supposed to take care of everything... lime build-up, calcium deposits, stains of all shapes and sizes, you know...the works!

Suddenly a white smoky gas started rising up off the edge of the toilet. Terrified, I pushed Sunshine out of the room, turned on the fan, flushed the stuff and closed the door. Then I remembered that Shortcake was in the front bathroom still swishing away. I screamed for her to come to me and after interrogating her as to how she felt and what she saw (nothing and nothing, thank you Dear Lord!) I performed the same procedure in that bathroom, grabbed the phone book and called Poison Control all the time kicking myself for not having the number on Speed Dial until I saw the number and then kicked myself for not having it memorized.

Let me just say how much I love Poison Control. I have only had to call a few times in my life as a mom and they have always been so helpful, heroically calm and thankfully... nonjudgmental.

I don't know if they give these people specific training in how to diffuse tense situations involving moms who believe they might have unknowingly concocted a bomb in their bowl (like MacGyver on a bad day) or if I just happened to get a guy who really enjoys his job. The nice young man who answered my call asked me to explain the situation to which I replied, "I was cleaning the bathroom and my girls were helping me...." As I paused to catch my breath which must have thought it was in the Boston Marathon I heard a little chuckle...

"These stories always start the same way."

Ok, now I could have ripped into him about his lackadaisical attitude regarding the potentially deadly cocktail steaming in my commode, but for a brief second, I stopped and thought. . . I'll bet they do!

And for just a second, I had to smile.

Thank you nice young man.


  1. " MacGyver on a bad day..."

    Oh my gosh, I am howling with laughter, and my kids are looking up from their math wondering what on earth mum has gotten up to now!

    I am glad you are all OK. :)

  2. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad everyone is OK, you included! What a sweet young man indeed! Blessings!

  3. I know that look from your boys...I've seen it many times myself!

    I guess I should have mentioned that aside from a mild panic attack and an overwhelming urge to throw away all cleaning products in my house at 2 o'clock in the morning, we are all OK!

  4. We are glad you are OK.
    That was funny AFTER the fact.
    Did the bowls come clean?

  5. That is so funny! Luckily, I've never had to call poison control, but your story DID remind me of a hilarious incident which occurred before I was "officially" a mother.

    We had decided not to find out the sex of our first baby, but I got such a kick out of all the old wives tales sworn to accurately predict baby's gender. My best friend told me about an experiment that correctly predicted the gender of her baby in which you--and I cannot believe I actually DID this!--pee on Draino crystals! As soon as the two...components, shall we say?...mixed, there was this horrendous, bubbling, fuming mess and my husband and I, gagging and with eyes watering, ran outside and laughed like crazy! Of course, then I was terrified that I may have caused permanent damage to Baby by briefly inhaling those toxic fumes...

    Luckily, he turned out just fine! :)

  6. I've called Poison Control at least a half dozen times. The worst was when a kid ate a mushroom from the front lawn. My husband had to drive the offending fungus to the closest "mushroom expert" 25 minutes away to make sure it was a safe kind.

  7. This is hilarious! My girls are napping and here I am laughing out loud by myself!

  8. This was a really funny post.

  9. So, I'm wondering what cuased the reaction? I forgot to laugh during your post. Maybe I don't have a funny one today? Toilet mishaps happen to me SO often that its not even funny. What did you mix to cause such a reaction??

    I need to go put the Poison Control number up. I had it at my old house but haven't done it here yet.

    REALLY! I'll be waiting to hear what caused the mishap and how it was resolved. ;-)

  10. The man indicated that the problem was a reaction between some ammonium chloride in the wipes and hydrogen chloride in the toilet cleaner. Together, they combined to make hydrogen chloride gas.

    Danger signs would have been an instant burning sensation in the lungs and/or throat, headache, and dizziness. None of us had any other these symptoms.

    He told me to close off the rooms and turn on the fans (which I had done) for about an hour to clear all of it out. (There was only a small amount.)

    The way they got mixed was when some of the spray splashed out from under the inner lip of the toilet onto the inside part that I had just wiped.

    I am looking for better cleaning options, but in the mean time I have resolved to never wipe and swish at the same time again.

    I had heard that you must be take care to not mix bleach and ammonium, so I thought it was safe to use a wipe that did not contain bleach. I didn't know about the ammonium.

  11. That reaction is one of the few things I remember learning in chemistry at school! Sorry to hear that you had to find it out in that rather scary way!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!