Pandemic-related cleaning products are posing increased risk to kids

The combination of distracted parents and the use of pandemic-related cleaning products is leading to increased dangers for kids at home, the advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide said.

“Parents and caregivers balancing several priorities of home, work and virtual learning is leading to gaps in supervision and an increased number of calls to the poison control help number about children getting into household cleaning products,” said Emily Samuel, of Safe Kids Worldwide.

Products causing problems include bleaches, disinfectants and hand sanitizers.

Between January and April, calls to poison control centers were up 20% compared with 2019. Between January and August, the number of hand sanitizer exposures reported to poison control centers jumped 70% compared with 2019.

“Exposures could mean that something was ingested, something was touched; there may be contact with the eyes. So, it’s very different situations,” Samuel said.

If your child gets into something you suspect may be dangerous, call the poison control help number at 1-800-222-1222.

“The best thing to do is to call the poison help number,” Samuel said. “They’ll ask you what product the child might have been exposed to and they’ll have the best advice.”

Specialists at poison control centers provide free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, and they can answer questions and help if there’s a poison emergency.

To help avoid risk, Samuel offers this advice:

  • Store household cleaning products out of children’s reach and sight.
  • Install cabinet locks.
  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers.
  • Read instructions before use.
  • Save the poison control number in your phone and post it physically at home.

Poison Control Centers can be reached multiple ways. You can get help online or, again, by calling 1-800-222-1222.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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