The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a wave of accidental poisonings from household cleaners and disinfectants.
With the National Poison Data System recently reporting a more than 20% spike in such emergencies, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) emphasized the need to store cleaning products safely away from children.
Bleach and alcohol-based hand sanitizers account for a large number of household poisonings since the pandemic took hold, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It only takes a second for an accidental poisoning to occur,” said Melissa Hockstad, the ACI’s president and CEO. “That’s why proper product use and safe storage is so important.”
She offers these safety tips:
- Read — and follow — instructions on product labels.
- Never mix cleaning products or try to create your own cleansers. Doing so can be toxic.
- Bleach is an effective disinfectant, but you only need a little to kill germs and viruses on surfaces. Always dilute it before use — a good formula is 1/3 cup of bleach per one gallon of water.
- After use, store cleaning products — and laundry detergent pods — out of reach and out of sight of children.
- Keep the Poison Control Center number handy — 1-800-222-1222.
- Don’t use surface cleansers on your skin.
- Don’t let kids get access to hand sanitizers or use them on their own. Put a couple of drops of sanitizer in kids’ hands and watch them rub their hands together until dry.
Hand sanitizers, in particular, are a problematic item for kids, the ACI stressed in a news release.
The CDC report noted that a preschooler was rushed to the hospital after drinking alcohol-based hand sanitizer and passing out. Her blood alcohol level reached 273 milligrams per deciliter (most states’ drunk driving limit is 80 mg/dL). She required overnight treatment in the pediatric intensive care unit before recovering.
And, on Friday the makers of Lysol warned consumers against any internal use — via “injection, ingestion or any other route” — of its disinfectant products as a treatment for COVID-19.
For more on household cleaning product safety tips, visit the American Cleaning Institute.