Hand sanitizer accidents on the rise: More calls to NJ Poison Control Center
Calls to New Jersey's poison control hotline related to cleaning products and hand sanitizer have jumped from about 500 in a typical year to 850 so far this year. Calls for hand sanitizer alone have numbered 300 more than usual.
New Jersey is not alone.
A report from Safe Kids Worldwide shows calls to Poison Control centers across the nation are significantly higher since the start of the pandemic.
This is largely due to an increase in cleaning products brought into the home. That, along with more children at home doing remote learning and distracted parents at home juggling responsibilities, is a recipe for disaster.
The report also said calls to the national poison help number are up by 70% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic for hand sanitizer exposure in children.
Bruce Ruck, managing director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System at Rutgers University's New Jersey Medical School, said the calls have included children drinking or tasting hand sanitizer and getting it in their eyes.
Ruck said there have been several calls from parents wanting to know if they bought any of the dangerous methanol hand sanitizers that have made headlines recently. Methanol is a type of alcohol used in windshield washer fluid and adhesives. Methanol poisoning can lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, decreased vision and possibly death.
Ruck said improper exposure to hand sanitizer, however, can lead to gastrointestinal tract problems as well as trouble breathing, walking, concentrating and even unconsciousness.
Besides issues with hand sanitizers, the NJ Poison Control Center has also received a number of calls related to children getting into bleaches, disinfecting wipes, soaps and detergents.
Household cleaning products should be stored on high shelves and locked away from children and pets. They should not be left on counters or under sinks where children have easy access to them. Household products should also be kept in their original containers.
Ruck said call the Poison Control help number at 1-800-222-1222 at any hour or day if someone has ingested any cleaning products or if there are questions. If someone is unconscious and not breathing, call 911.
To date, The New Jersey Poison Control Center has received more than 50,000 calls since January on the COVID-19 hotline that it's running for the state.