LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Poison control centers around the country, including here in Kentucky, are seeing a spike in calls related to COVID-19.

"Just in March, we saw about a 30% increase in hand sanitizer exposures and about a 50% increase in household cleaners." said Dr. Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Poison Control Center.

The center, at Norton’s Children’s Hospital, usually gets about 150 calls a day. Its COVID-19 hotline now averages 1,000 calls a day.

Webb said most calls involve kids drinking cleaners or breathing in toxic fumes because parents are cleaning more often.

Many people are making their own cleaners or hand sanitizer, and experts said it’s important to label those bottles and keeping the cleaners out of kids’ reach.

The center also reported that, nationally, calls to poison control centers in the last quarter have increased about 20%, with children under 5 being affected the most, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Kentucky Poison Control Center said parents can limit exposure by:

  • Storing all household products out of a child’s sight and reach. Young kids often are at eye level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Installing child safety locks on cabinets containing poisonous items.
  • Always following all instructions and warnings, and wearing eye protection.
  • Not mixing chemicals.
  • Not leaving poisonous products unattended while in use.
  • Never putting a potentially poisonous product in something other than its original container where it could be mistaken for something else.

Maria Chapman, poison prevention coordinator with the Kentucky center said, “It’s important to protect against COVID-19. But also make sure in your race to prevent the virus, you’re not also putting yourself and your family in another dangerous situation.”

The poison hotline: 800-222-1222.

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