Household poisoning risk for children is higher amid COVID pandemic, warn experts


The coronavirus pandemic has caused a spike in calls to poison control centers around the country, with experts warning that the household poisoning risk for children is higher than prior to the health emergency.

Emily Samuel, the program director at Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit child safety organization, told Good Morning America that consumer demand for disinfectants, household cleaners, and hand sanitizers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as well as families spending more time at home, is the likely cause behind the increase in accidental poisonings.

Data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the CDC indicates that from January 1 through August 2 of this year, accidental poisonings and hand sanitizer exposure cases rose by nearly 70% compared to the same timeframe in 2019.

Samuel said that juggling telework and homeschooling as well as “more cleaning products in the home and gaps in supervision are leading to an increase in the number of calls to poison control centers related to young children getting into cleaning products.”

The highest increase in calls among cleaning supplies has been bleach, she told KNX in September.

In order to lower the risk of accidental poisonings, Samuel suggested keeping household products out of sight and reach of young children. She also suggested keeping products in their original containers, and posting the Poison Control help number (1-800-222-1222) in a visible part of the home.

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