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More Oklahomans calling poison control during pandemic

Which disinfectants really are useful against coronavirus?
Posted at 3:26 AM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 11:55:09-04

TULSA, Okla. — Poison control centers report an increase in calls regarding chemical and cleaning supply exposure in children and adults.

The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information (OCPDI) said they're seeing between 40 to 60 percent more calls compared to last year.

What's causing the spike?

Parents are spending more time at home cleaning, disinfecting, trying to keep their families safe from COVID-19, and may forget to store these products somewhere safe after they're done. This is leading to children consuming chemicals that can be threatening to their health.

This year, the OCPDI reports a 44 percent increase in calls regarding bleach and a 62 percent increase in calls from disinfectants and mixed cleaning products.

2 Works for You spoke with the Managing Director of OCPDI Scott Shaeffer on the matter. Shaeffer warned parents if they see their child is vomiting, drooling, or having difficulty swallowing, these may be signs they've consumed something they shouldn't have.

“We are all at home, we are busy, we are out of our routine, so we might not put up a container or package after using it like we normally would," Shaeffer said. "Children are really good at finding that one time that we fail to put something up, they are going to find that container and take a taste of it.”

Schaeffer said children aren't the only ones in danger; if a parent is mixing bleach and ammonia, like Clorox and Lysol All Purpose Cleaner, it produces a gas called chloramine. If this gas gets in a person's lungs it can cause chemical pneumonia or other serious problems, so it's best to read the labels before mixing things as you clean.

Another thing, if parents develop a persistent cough, or start wheezing while cleaning, these are signs it's time to stop, open some windows, and get away from the cleaning for a minute.

What do you do if your child is exposed?

If a child is exposed to any chemicals, or consumes any cleaning products, the first thing to do is clean their face and hands. This prevents burning or pain if they rub their eyes or face after consuming a product.

Next, call poison control immediately. They have nurses and pharmacists ready 24/7 to help. That number is 1-800-222-1222.

“One of our goals here at the poison center is to prevent you from going to the emergency room, if done correctly at home with the assistance of our pharmacists and nurses, we can avoid a trip to the emergency almost all of the time,” Schaeffer said.

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