WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As parents continue to be hypervigilant about keeping their homes as clean as possible during the pandemic, there has been a major surge in the demand for cleaning products. At the same time, the combination of more young children at home for virtual learning and parents and caregivers focusing on several priorities at once is leading to less supervision and an increased number of calls to the Poison Help Number about children being exposed to cleaning products.
For example, there has been a 70 percent increase in the number of hand sanitizer exposures reported to poison control centers from January to August compared to the same period in 2019. This could be due in part to the to the fact that, in addition to children spending more time at home, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are being sold in containers that look like water bottles, children's food pouches, beer cans and more.
The most recent increase in exposures to hand-sanitizers comes on the heels of a rise in reported exposures to all cleaning products and disinfectants, which were 20 percent higher between January to April 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Bleaches accounted for the largest increase among all cleaner categories, while nonalcohol disinfectants and hand sanitizers accounted for the largest percentages of the increase among disinfectants.
"We know these are challenging times for families and parents are doing the best they can juggling multiple roles, including child supervision, homeschooling and teleworking," said Torine Creppy, president of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Young children have lots of energy and are full of curiosity, but sometimes we find them getting into things they shouldn't."
"We are being inundated with calls," said Shireen Banerji, Director of Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Safety. "Some kids are not at school and are spending long days at home. The challenge of raising children during a pandemic combined with more cleaning products in the home is the perfect storm for increased injuries."
According to Banergi, in one case, a father was wiping down his child's highchair and placed a cup of bleach on the tray. His toddler reached for the cup, knocking it over and pouring bleach onto her face. Her eye was so irritated and inflamed that the dad ended up taking her in to the Emergency Department for treatment.
Other calls to the Poison Help Number have resulted from well-meaning parents and caregivers who are making hand sanitizers and cleaning products at home, which is generally discouraged. Most families don't own pharmaceutical bottles, so mistakes will happen when water bottles and containers found in homes are used to store these homemade concoctions. Even if the creation is clearly marked as "hand sanitizer," a child who can't read sees a water bottle as a water bottle.
In other cases, antibacterial wipes, commonly used on doorknobs, faucets and other highly-touched areas of the home, are sometimes left on the counter for another use. When young, curious children discover a wipe laying around, or pull a fresh one out of a container left within reach, they are likely to put it into their mouths.
Safe Kids Worldwide has 3 tips to help parents keep kids safe around cleaning products during the pandemic.
Store household products out of children's reach and sight. Young kids are often eye-level with items on counters and under kitchen and bathroom sinks, so keep cleaning supplies, laundry packets, hand sanitizers and personal care products where children can't reach them.
Keep household products in their original containers and read product labels. Use and store products according to the product label. Kids can get into things quickly, so remember not to leave cleaning products or personal care products unattended while you are using them.
Save the Poison Help number in your phone and post it visibly at home: 1-800-222-1222. Specialists at poison control centers provide free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day. They can answer questions and help with poison emergencies.
ABOUT SAFE KIDS WORLDWIDE Safe Kids Worldwide is a nonprofit organization working to protect kids on the road, at home and at play. Preventable injuries are the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and almost every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 400 coalitions in the U.S. and with partners in more than 30 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by nearly 60 percent. Working together, we can do much more to protect kids. Join our effort at safekids.org.