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Children at higher risk of household poisonings amid coronavirus pandemic, experts warn

artisteer/iStockBy NICOLE PELLETIERE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Safety experts are warning families of children being more exposed to poisonous household items, as COVID-19 has brought an abundance of disinfectants and sanitizing products into homes.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, there was an increase in accidental poisonings since the start of the pandemic, with the AAPCC reporting 21,074 hand sanitizer exposure cases reported to 55 poison control centers. These cases took place from Jan. 1, 2020, through Aug. 2, 2020, a rate nearly 70% higher compared to the same time period during 2019.

Emily Samuel, program director at the nonprofit child safety organization Safe Kids Worldwide, said the heightened numbers are likely due to consumer demand for household cleaners, disinfectants and hand sanitizers during COVID-19. In addition, more people are home and balancing remote work, child care and homeschooling.

“So it is likely that the combination of balancing these priorities, 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,” she told Good Morning America.

Here are Samuel’s tips on how to avoid accidental poisonings.

1. 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. Keep cleaning supplies, laundry packets, hand sanitizers and personal care products where children can’t reach.

2. 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.

3. Store the Poison Control help number in your phone, and post it visibly inside your 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 possible poison emergencies.

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