LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Calls to poison control centers regarding exposure to household cleaners and disinfectants have spiked amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the CDC.
Arkansas is also seeing a small spike in calls related to children being.
Between kids spending extended time in the home and more cleaning products in use, the the Arkansas Poison and Drug Information Center has had a busy couple of months. Dr. Howell Foster, Director of the Center, said this time of year is already their busiest time aside from COVID-19 concerns.
“We’ve seen an overall increase in the number of calls but it is a relatively small two to three percent,” he said. “That’s the same increase for household products and they’ve stayed in that general range so we’ve seen a little increase in household products calls.”
He said they typically have a spike in calls in the summer due to kids being home and the fact that there are more chemicals out to deal with plants and insects. The affects of chemical exposure can be dangerous and even deadly for children.
“We worry most when a child consumes a large volume or has an aspiration,” he said. “Aspiration means while they swallow, they choke and pull it back into their lungs and if that’s the case that’s a serious problem.”
With that in mind, he said parents need to act now to make sure kids are safe. Doing simple things like removing cleaning supplies from lower cabinets can make a big difference.
“Unless you have child safety devices on those cabinets, you need to find a better place to keep them,” he said.
While Dr. Howell hopes more parents will take precautions, he expects these types of calls to remain steady. He’s offering advice for anyone that finds their child in this situation.
“If someone is in a dire situation, call 911 immediately and they will get on the line,” he said. “Once an ambulance is on the way, call us and we can give you advice until the ambulance arrives.”
He said if kids are visiting relatives, additional precautions should be taken beforehand and not just in regards to cleaning supplies. Grandparents, for example, are likely to have pills around the house that can be especially dangerous for kids. It’s important those aren’t easily accessible.
“We see a lot of exposure at grandparent’s homes,” he said.
For additional information about the Arkansas Poison and Drug Information Center visit here.