Serving Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming, American Samoa and Federated States of Micronesia

Poison Prevention during the COVID-19 Pandemic

With social distancing, school closures, changes to in-person services, and other measures to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus, this pandemic has caused significant changes to daily life for everyone.  Social distancing presents challenges beyond decreased access to basic needs and services.  Disruptions to daily routines, isolation and anxiety around circumstances can lead to poisoning, both accidental and intentional.

Medication Management

Children are naturally curious and like to mimic adults in their lives.  Because of this, it is important to:

  • Teach children to ask before touching or tasting anything they find on their own.
  • Purchase medication in child-resistant packaging whenever possible.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • When taking medication remember to be out of the sight of children.
  • Read all labels closely and take only as recommended.

Cleaners and Disinfectants

Cleaning surfaces followed by disinfectant is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.  Remember these safety tips:

  • Do NOT mix cleaning products together. Mixing bleach with an acid (often found in toilet bowl cleaners) or ammonia will result in a highly toxic chlorine or chloramine gas.
  • Store household chemicals, and all cleaning products in their original container.
  • Always use in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wear gloves to avoid skin contact.
  • Follow label directions.

Hand Sanitizers

If soap and water is not available, hand sanitizers may help decrease unwanted germs on hands. Children are attracted to hand sanitizers because packaging may be in brightly colored bottles and smell like candy or food. These products usually contain > 60% ethyl alcohol which could cause alcohol poisoning.  Some of the “homemade” sanitizers may not have labeling of ingredients, and could pose a danger with exposure in mouth or eyes.  Tips to keep in mind:

  • Always supervise children when using hand sanitizer.
  • Only use a dime-sized amount and rub in skin until dry.
  • Avoid eye exposure.
  • Keep out of reach and sight.

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is a free community service to the public.

Call 1-800-222-1222 and talk immediately to a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist 24/7/365.

Text “poison” to 797979 to save the contact information for the poison center in your smart phone.