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Upstate New York Poison Center saw an increase in hand sanitizer, bleach calls in 2020

Virus Outbreak New York
Posted at 11:48 AM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 11:48:19-05

NEW YORK (WKBW) — The Upstate New York Poison Center says it saw an increase in hand sanitizer and bleach calls in 2020 due to COVID-19.

"Our poison center saw an increase in cases associated with cleaning products, cosmetics and personal care products (most notably hand sanitizers), plants, vitamins, and alcohol. The correlation between the types of calls our poison center saw this year compared to last year, shows a direct relationship to the large numbers of people staying home, exploring the outdoors more, and trying different remedies to combat COVID-19," a release from the poison center says.

Officials say staff answered the largest number of calls in March and although direct calls to the center remained on par with previous years, its data shows call volume was up 38% because of its association with the Upstate COVID-19 Hotline that opened in March 2020.

“2020 was a challenging year for us all. Our poison center staff was prepared to answer the influx of calls as soon as we saw COVID-19 taking hold of our country,” said administrative director, Michele Caliva, “Several members of our staff, including myself, helped set-up the first COVID hotline at Upstate and our poison center data system records all of that data.”

Officials say of the nearly 52,000 cases the center managed in 2020 the majority came from Onondaga, Erie, Monroe, Albany and Orange counties.

The top poisonings according to the center are listed below.

Top 5 poisonings in 2020 for all age groups:

1. Analgesics (most exposure/information calls for: adult strength acetaminophen and ibuprofen)
2. Household cleaning products (most exposure/information calls for: bleach)
3. Cosmetics/personal care products (most exposure/information calls for: hand sanitizers)
4. Antidepressants
5. Sedative/Hypnotics/Antipsychotics (most exposure/information calls for: benzodiazepines)

Top 5 poisonings in 2020 for children 5 or younger:

1. Personal care products (most exposure/information calls for: hand sanitizers)
2. Household cleaning products (most exposure/information calls for: bleach, laundry pods)
3. Foreign objects (most exposure/information calls for: toys, silica gel, glow sticks)
4. Analgesics (most exposure/information calls for: children’s liquid acetaminophen)
5. Dietary supplements (most exposure/information calls for: melatonin)

The center has also provided poison prevention tips:

  • Keep medicines and household products locked up, where children cannot see or reach them.
  • Store poisons in their original containers.
  • Use child-resistant packaging, but remember nothing is child-proof.
  • Read the label and follow the directions on medicines and products.
  • Take your medicines where children can’t watch.
  • Teach child to ask an adult before eating or drinking anything.

In the case of a poisoning or if you need information you can reach the Upstate New York Poison Center 24/7, 365 days a year at 1-800-222-1222.