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Household Safety Increasingly Important During COVID-19

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Geri Jacobson,MD

Stay-at-home orders and distance learning have us all spending more time at home with our families. This change has some positive impacts during these uncertain times, but it also comes with new challenges. For families with young children, home safety is increasingly more important.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that cleaner and disinfectant exposures have increased by 20 percent compared to past years with a sharp spike at the beginning of March 2020. While all age groups were affected, a large percentage of calls involved children younger than 5 years old.

To help prevent dangerous situations with household chemicals and medications, here are a few tips for families:

Household chemicals:

  • Be aware of household items that can be dangerous if swallowed by young children. Treat these no differently than how you store medications. These include:
    • Bleaches
    • Disinfectants
    • Hand sanitizers
  • Since more families are using household cleaners and disinfectants more often, they also may be using them improperly at a higher rate. Make sure to:
    • Read and follow directions
    • Avoid mixing chemical products
    • Wear eye or skin protection
    • Use in a ventilated area

Medications

  • Always keep medicines stored out of reach AND sight — every time. Store it in a cabinet above the height of a counter. Securing this cabinet with a childproof lock is also a good, additional safety measure.
  • Don’t allow yourself or others in your home to keep medications in a handy location, such as a bedside or in a purse. The risk of it being discovered is too great.
  • Keep your medications in their original child-resistant packaging. But remember that child-resistant doesn’t mean child-proof and you shouldn’t store your medications less safely as a result.
  • Be attentive. If you are taking your medication and you get distracted by your phone or someone at the door — be sure to bring it with you. Don’t leave it out.
  • The Poison Help Hotline is 1-800-222-1222. Store this number in your phone and in a prominent location at home in case an emergency should arise.

NOTE: Special thanks to the CDC for some of this helpful information to protect our families during the COVID-10 pandemic.