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Poison Center getting surge in calls about kids and hand sanitizer

Following an increase in calls to the Washington Poison Center from people poisoning themselves by ingesting bleach while trying to ward off COVID-19, hand sanitizer has now also become a culprit of toxic exposures.

Last month, it was reported that calls about toxic exposures to cleaning products had increased by 23 percent this year. Since then, that percentage has nearly doubled.

WA Poison Center calls spike due to COVID-19 cleaning mistakes

“We have seen a 52 percent increase in kids being exposed to hand sanitizer, … we’ve also seen a 53 percent increase in misuse of household cleaning products,” said Megan King, Washington Poison Center Public Health Education & Communications Specialist.

The hand sanitizer hazards tend to occur when children get hold of bottles of sanitizer.

“It might be kids licking their hands after they had hand sanitizer applied, or they might be getting it in their eyes, or they might even be taking a drink out of a hand sanitizer bottle,” King said.

Adults, meanwhile, are harming themselves when they make the mistake of mixing two cleaners together, which can cause a hazardous chemical reaction and create toxic gases. Some people have also been soaking their face masks in bleach, and then breathing in the bleach when they put the mask on.

Luckily, the vast majority of the accidental poisonings were taken care of at home with advice from Washington Poison Center experts and did not require emergency room care.

The Washington Poison Center said everyone should remember to take precautions with disinfectants, such as wearing gloves and opening windows while cleaning, storing cleaning products out of reach of kids, and watching children when they use hand sanitizer.

Never mix cleaning chemicals together or wash your face mask in them; throw face masks in the laundry instead.

If you or a loved one is exposed to a toxic substance, call the Washington Poison Center immediately at 800-222-1222. Lines are open 24 hours a day.

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