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Tennessee poison center sees thousands more calls during quarantine

Most are from parents about kids ingesting cleaning products, the center reported.

No school and parents cleaning more has turned out to be a dangerous combination for Tennessee kids. The Tennessee poison center reports 20 percent more calls during the coronavirus crisis--and most are parents calling about kids accidentally coming into contact with cleaning products.

"We'll get hundreds of calls about disinfectants, hand sanitizers, bleaches. In that area we have seen a huge increase," said Nena Bowman, director of the Tennessee Poison Center. 

The center reports 

  • 23 percent more calls about bleach poisoning.
  • 5 percent more about hand sanitizer. 
  • 275 percent increase in questions about all-purpose cleaners. 

"I think it has a lot to do with kids being home and people disinfecting more," Bowman said. 

Some products are more dangerous than others. She said kids tasting all-purpose cleaners and Lysol wipes may not be as serious as ingesting concentrated bleach, for example. 

"We encourage people to keep things up and away out of the reach of kids--no matter what it is," Bowman said. "Essential oils, disinfectants, bleach-- make sure they're in cabinets with the caps screwed on really well." 

Typically, she said mothers and grandmother call about children coming into contact with substances in the home. Lately, they've been getting more calls from fathers. 

After President Trump's debunked and controversial comments about ingesting cleaning supplies as a cure for the coronavirus, she said the center received more calls. 

"We have seen not necessarily people doing these things, but we have seen an increase in people asking questions about it," Bowman said. 

She said people should not be worried about cleaning, just making sure supplies are out of reach. 

"It's not about not having these products in your home, it's about storing them safely in your home," Bowman said. 

If someone in your family comes into contact with a dangerous substance, experts are standing by to answer questions on a scenario-basis at 1-800 222-1222.