Posted on: June 2, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to our daily lives – schools closed, businesses have employees working from home, and stay-at-home orders limited the ability to get out and about. Being at home these past months means more time on our hands and opportunities for kids to go exploring where they should not.
The Palmetto Poison Center, the only such center in South Carolina, and part of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, is focusing on providing safety information for families who are finding themselves confined to the house. “We aren’t really receiving more calls than normal,” says Jill Michels, Pharm.D., director of the Palmetto Poison Center. “What we are seeing are more calls about younger children ingesting, being exposed to, and getting cleaning products and disinfectants on their skin or in their eyes.”
If parents are working, they can be distracted, giving kids more of an opportunity to get their little hands on cleaners.
Jill Michels, Pharm.D. Director, Palmetto Poison Center
Michels says that due to the coronavirus, people likely have more cleaning supplies in the house. “If parents are working, they can be distracted, giving kids more of an opportunity to get their little hands on cleaners,” she adds.
With such an increased demand for hand sanitizer, Michels especially cautions safe use around children. “Many hand sanitizers come in brightly colored bottles and some have glitter added to them, so kids may think they’re candy,” Michels says. “Even a small amount can cause alcohol poisoning in children.”
Michels recommends that hand sanitizers and all cleaning products be kept well out of reach of children. “We’re using the products more often, but it’s important that we remember to put them away after every use. It’s also important to keep them in their original containers so they won’t be confused with anything else”
Calling the Palmetto Poison Center can help avoid a trip to the emergency room. “We assess each call, determine what each person may have been exposed to or ingested, and determine from that information the best course of treatment,” Michels says.
The Palmetto Poison Center is also taking advantage of the time that children are spending at home to educate and provide safety information. Christina DeRienzo is education coordinator for the center. She hosts weekly events on Facebook to help kids learn safety about potentially poisonous items around the house.
Every Tuesday, DeRienzo shares safety information through ‘Storytime with Mr. Yuk and Friends,’ a Facebook Live event where she reads a book to young viewers each week. “I am a teacher at heart,” DeRienzo says, “and it’s a different way to reach that young population while we’re having to stay at home.”
DeRienzo has shared books like Curious George Takes a Job, Stay Safe Home Safety, Watch Out at Home, Fancy Nancy Poison Ivy Expert, Taking Medicine, and Dinosaurs Beware. She has also hosted ‘Walk About Wednesday – A Safety Tour through the Home.’
“We have had great participation in the Facebook Live events,” she says. “We have reached nearly 3,100 people and more than 1,300 watched our videos.”
To watch the videos and learn more safety information, follow Palmetto Poison Center on Facebook
The Palmetto Poison Center is open for calls 24/7 with trained nurses and pharmacists available for calls and to answer questions and is free and confidential. For any questions, please call 1-800-222-1222.