(Pexels)

(Pexels)

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

The BC Centre for Disease control (CDC) has seen a spike in calls about hand sanitizer exposure and ingestion in the past couple of months.

On Tuesday (May 26) the CDC’s Drug & Poison Information Centre said calls involving hand sanitizer exposure in children under five went up from an average of less than two a week in January and February to seven a week in April. During the same time period, calls about adults ingesting hand sanitizer went up from once a week to roughly three or four times a week.

READ MORE: B.C. poison control officials see spike in disinfectant exposure calls amid COVID-19

Sales and use of hand sanitizer has gone up drastically in recent months as people seek to keep their hands germ-free amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Statistics Canada, hand sanitizer sales rose 792 per cent during the first week of March, compared to the same week last year. By April 11 sales had slowed somewhat, but only to a 345 per cent increase compared to the year prior.

READ MORE: Post-COVID grocery store sales high but below the mid-March peak, StatCan says

Dr. Tom Kosatsky, the medical director of Environmental Health Services at BCCDC, said that although alcohol-based hand sanitizer area good option when soap and water aren’t available, they can be dangerous. Hand sanitizer must have at least 60 per cent alcohol to be effective, according to Health Canada, and that can make it deadly in large quantities and dangerous even in smaller ones.

“However, as these products become more a part of our daily lives it’s important to be careful when storing them and using them, especially if there are young children in your home,” Kosatsky said.

This is especially important now that breweries and distilleries have been authorized to make hand sanitizer, which can sometimes come in packaging that appears to be a beverage.

“These sanitizers are liquid, rather than gel, and are sometimes packaged in bottles or cans that look like beverage containers, making them easier to consume by accident,” he said.

READ MORE: All B.C. distillers now authorized to make hand sanitizer as COVID-19 leads to shortages

The CDC recommends taking several safety measures if you have hand sanitizer in your home:

  • If you purchase sanitizer in a package that could be mistaken for a beverage container, pour the hand sanitizer into a different container (such as a spray bottle) that has been emptied, cleaned, and dried.
  • Alternatively, replace the cap of the existing bottle with a pump to make the product look different from drink containers.
  • Make sure all containers of hand sanitizer are labelled clearly.
  • If you have young children in your home, avoid buying hand sanitizers that may be more attractive to kids, such as hand sanitizers that are scented or contain glitter. Always store hand sanitizer out of reach of children, pets and people with dementia.

If you think someone has swallowed any amount of hand sanitizer, call your local poison control centre. For the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre, call 1-800-567-8911.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusHand sanitizer poisoning

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A small memorial to Rich Goulet was started at Pitt Meadows Secondary after his recent death. (Neil Corbett/The News)
LETTER: Rename Pitt Meadows school gym in coach’s honour

Rich Goulet was considered one of the provinces best basketball coaches and died recently

Doug Nolin, a Maple Ridge senior, snapped this picture of his pet pigeons taking flight down by the old Albion ferry dock. “What a beautiful land we live in,” he said. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Chirp, chirp: Ridge senior captures pigeons taking flight

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Pamela Franklin captured this picture of a raccoon in Maple Ridge, “chilling” in her backyard, on her storage bin. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Lounging in the spring sun

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Debbie Noseworthy snapped a sunset picture the first day of daylight savings as seen from the dikes off 216th Street in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Sky on fire over Maple Ridge dikes

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Darlene Martin captured this ‘breathtaking’ view of a sunset and the Fraser River as taken from Osprey Village. (Special to The News)
SHARE: View from Osprey Village breathtaking

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read