Increased use of cleaning products leads to a rise in kids’ poisonings
The combination of more young children at home for virtual learning and parents home focusing on several priorities at once is leading to less supervision and an increased number of calls to poison control about kids being exposed to cleaning products.
Cass Herring, tech advisor at Smart Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization working to protect kids, said parents continue to be vigilant about keeping their homes clean during the pandemic.
That has led to a continual surge in the demand for cleaning products. The challenge of raising kids during a pandemic combined with more cleaning products in the home is the perfect storm for increased injuries.
Kids are very curious and mimic what parents do, Herring said. So if a parent is cleaning, then kids may be interested in what they are using.
But in the first few months of the pandemic, calls to poison control centers across the country increased by 70% alone.
As of December 31, 2021, poison control centers managed 23,529 exposure cases about hand sanitizer alone in children 12 years and younger.
She said it's very important parents navigate around these pitfalls and make sure young children don't fall victim to these types of poisoning.
For example, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are being sold in containers that look like water bottles, children's food pouches, and even beer cans.
Herring offered three tips to help keep kids safe around cleaning products.
Store household products out of children's reach and sight.
Herring said to think about where a child's eye level may be. Often it's on a level with counters and under kitchen and bathroom sinks. So keep cleaning supplies, laundry packets, and hand sanitizers up high where kids can't reach or see them.
Keep household products in their original containers and read product labels.
Parents should use and store products according to their labels. Kids can get into kids quickly so parents should not leave cleaning products or personal care products unattended while using them, Herring said.
Save the Poison Help number in your phone and post it visibly at home.
The Poison Help number is 1-800-222-1222. Herring said specialists at poison control centers provide free, confidential expert medical advice 24 hours a day. They can answer questions and help with any poison emergency and even let you know if you should take the child to the emergency room, depending on the situation.
Herring said if parents see an unopened cleaning product bottle or packet lying around and they're not sure if a child ingested any, it's always best to call poison control, explain the symptoms, if any, and have them lead you down the correct path.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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