Poison Information Coordinator at the Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN), Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, is imploring parents to be extra careful in safeguarding children, who are now home from school, from exposure to household chemicals.
The appeal comes in light of the increased use of sanitising chemicals by householders to protect against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh said it is important to adhere to some key guidelines for chemical use around children in order to protect them.
“Do not spray chemicals on your children. Apply the sanitiser to the child’s hands when necessary and guide them on how to apply it,” she noted.
She pointed out that sanitisers contain chemical compounds, and while commercially packaged products are made at a safe standard for human use, persons have been making their own, and in many cases, they do not use the recommended proportion of ingredients.
She advised that whenever possible, soap and water should be the first sanitising option for children, over the use of chemicals.
“Ensure as well that areas are well ventilated when chemicals of strong odours are being used, as this will lessen the possibility of coughing and sneezing,” Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh said, noting that toxic substances often precipitate these reactions, especially in children.
“It is the body’s way of warning you that it is not safe for you to inhale,” she pointed out.
The Poison Information Coordinator told JIS News that ingestion of household bleach has been one of the leading causes of accidental poisoning of children in Jamaica for many years.
She noted that inhalation of noxious fumes from bleach is also harmful to children and, as such, it is important for parents to guard against excessive use when sanitising their surroundings.
Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh further appealed for persons to read and follow the instructions on the labels of all chemicals used for sanitising, stressing that it is neither wise nor necessary to use more than the required amount.
“Please note that some chemicals should never be applied to the body. They are for surfaces only,” she said.
She said that the general rules pertaining to the use of household chemicals are to be observed at all times, including keeping these items out of the reach of children and not storing in food look-alike containers.
“Children are at home now and the potential for a spike in accidental poisoning is greatest and it is important to reduce the need for anyone to have to go to the Accident and Emergency Department at this time,” she noted.
“Let us take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent these unfortunate occurrences, particularly during this period,” Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh added.