Kids spending more time at home due to coronavirus causing spike in poisonings

Reporter: Veronica Marshall
Published: Updated:
Cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer. (Unsplash)

Due to the coronavirus, kids are spending more time at home and that is causing a rise in poisonings.

“My kids are all older now, but when I got started they were so tender, and you want to protect them from everything,” said Wendy Blair Stephan, Ph.D., Health Education Coordinator, Florida Poison Information Center-Miami.

Stephan says for her, poison control is personal and since the pandemic hit, she’s been busy.

“We started seeing calls about children licking their hands after using hand sanitizer,” she said. “We saw exposures to cleaners because parents are cleaning…We’ve also seen an increase in exposures to pool chemicals as families are shocking the pools, preparing the pools and then, of course, spending a ton of time out by the pool.”

Another concern: vitamins.

“Overall, year over year, we’ve seen a 48% increase in calls to poison centers in Florida about vitamins,” Stephan said.

She says both children and adults are overdosing.

“People were turning to supplements as a way to protect themselves from the virus,” she said.

Dr. Stan Headley with Cypress Pharmacy says it’s something people in Southwest Florida are curious about.

“We’ve seen a very robust surgence in patients coming in, asking questions – especially now, with the coronavirus – about which supplements they need, how much to take,” he said.

The experts say to avoid overdosing, always check with a healthcare professional before starting something new.

“These are natural, they are supplements, they are marketed in many ways – but we do recommend that people talk to their doctors about the complete picture of what they’re taking,” Stephan said.

She says poison control is also seeing about a 22% increase in plant poisonings. She says that’s because kids are home and playing outside more often.

You can call poison control at 1-800-222-1222 for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it’s free and confidential.

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