Poison control calls are spiking
By YOLANDA FREEMAN-HILDRETH
Special to the Times-Herald
National Safety Month takes on new importance this year while families are homebound due to COVID-19. As Michigan moves into the summer months, summer camps have been reduced, and vacations have been cancelled, causing families to continue to stay at home.
Households are bursting at the seams, accidental exposures and poisonings among children are rising drastically. Calls to the Michigan Poison Center about disinfectants alone have risen 400 percent.
As a physician assistant, I know how fast accidents can happen with little ones in the home – not to mention if they’re quarantined full-time. I urge everyone in Dearborn and the surrounding communities to remember that health and safety go hand-in-hand. Take a moment to pause, look around the house, and take the necessary steps to make your home safer.
A recent survey conducted by the American Cleaning Institute revealed more than 67 percent of parents with children under age 4 said their laundry room is accessible to children. ACI’s Packets Up! safety campaign is dedicated to helping families prevent accidental exposures to cleaning supplies, including liquid laundry packets – and keeping these items safely stored is the key to prevention.
Here are some safe habits and cleaning tips to help families cleaning for COVID-19:
Continue to clean with guidance from CDC and your healthcare provider
The most important steps parents can take is following the guidance from the CDC and their healthcare providers. The CDC disinfecting guidelines are:
Clean hands and surfaces with soap and water first; when wiping down a surface be sure to wipe in a straight line, not in a circular motion.
Use disinfectants by following the instructions as directed on the label, then let dry.
Priority items to clean and disinfect are; doorknobs, light switches, sink faucets and cell phones.
While cleaning, do not leave cleaning products out in the open and in reach of children. Immediately put cleaning supplies up and out of reach of those at risk for exposure after use.
Do not use surface care products on your skin.
If parents are worried about the chemicals in cleaning supplies, go to PacketsUp.com to gain a better understanding of cleaning products, and Epa.gov for a list of ingredients in cleaning supplies and directions for chemical safety.
Teach your children safe cleaning habits by including them in household chores
While at home, every child needs activities to occupy their time and every parent needs help keeping the home clean. Involve children in cleaning and disinfecting activities. Have them clear clutter so you can disinfect different areas of the home. Allow them to wipe down surfaces with soap and water before you disinfect. Teach them to wash their hands properly-with soap and water for 20 seconds. Teach them what products they should not use on their skin.
Store all batteries, medicines, cleaning products and liquid laundry packets up high, out of reach and out of sight
From the garage to the laundry room, the best place to store medicines or liquid laundry packets is in an overhead cabinet secured with a child safety lock. If you don’t have a cabinet available, place the products (in their original packaging) into a larger bin with other laundry and household products and put it up high where those at risk won’t be able to see or access it.
Immediately move laundry packets and cleaning products to their safe storage place upon arrival in your home
When purchasing laundry packets and other household cleaners, have them bagged separately and then put them away – up high and out of sight and reach – as soon as you get home and unpack your groceries.
Always keep cleaning products in their original container with labels intact
These containers are designed to be child resistant and, in case of an emergency, have ingredients and poison control information clearly displayed on the label.
During National Safety month, make proper cleaning product use and storage a habit. Make sure you are prepared in the event of an unintended exposure. For more safe storage tips, go to PacketsUp.org.
If you think someone has been accidentally exposed to laundry packets or other household products, call your local poison center at 800-222-1222 and seek immediate medical attention.
(Yolonda Freeman-Hildreth has over 13 years of experience as a healthcare professional, both as a registered nurse and a physician assistant with a specialty of internal and outpatient medicine. She is also a mother and educator, and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Detroit Mercy. Her passion is to engage, inspire and educate the next generation of physician assistants.)