Officials see increase in poison control calls since start of pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Officials say disinfectant exposures have risen by about 45% compared to the same time last year in our state.

Bleach exposure has increased by about 12%. 

Bleach, non-alcohol disinfectants and hand sanitizers seem to be the biggest culprits for poisonings.

Managing Director, Scott Schaeffer with Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information says one of the things the increase could be contributed to is a change in routine.

“We’re using them so much. We’re using the bleaches, disinfectants, cleansers and our minds are elsewhere. We’re worried about our family. We’re out of our element. We’re not doing what we normally do and it’s very easy to forget to put that container back,” said Schaeffer.

Schaeffer says the most calls they receive are about 2-and-3-year-olds who have gotten into something they shouldn’t have.

“They can get into just about anything and a lot of times faster than parents and grandparents can,” he said.

He says safe storage is one of the main ways to keep household cleaners and disinfectants out of reach.

“The phrase that we use is up and away. We know that kids are climbers, but it makes it a little bit more difficult if we can keep products in a higher cabinet possibly with latches,” he said.

You should also follow label directions, wear protective gloves, and only use chemicals in a well-ventilated area.

He says the most concerning increase has been 71% for people who are exposed to gases by mixing cleaners and disinfectants.

“Usually if you take the time to read that small print on the labels there will be cautions about mixing products. I advise using one type of product at a time,” he said.

Scientists say so far, data cannot prove these poisonings are directly linked to the pandemic.

If you feel your child or someone else in your home has been exposed to toxic chemicals you can call poison control at (800) 222-1222.

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