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Staying Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Poison centers are seeing a spike in accidental poisonings during the coronavirus pandemic, specifically from hand sanitizers and household cleaning products.

During these difficult times, we want to remind you of some important safety tips and reassure you that Florida’s Poison Control Centers remain open to help you, for free, at 1-800-222-1222. Our healthcare professionals are available 24 hours a day, and most of the time can walk you through what to do at home, so you don’t have to leave your house.

Below are some helpful reminders to keep you and your family safe during this time:

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Keeping Kids Safe

childrenFlorida’s Poison Control Centers are seeing a substantial increase in accidental exposures related to hand sanitizers and household cleaning products, including disinfectants and bleach. These are due primarily to these products being used regularly, and then left accessible to children rather than safely placing them out of their reach.

While careful use of these products can prevent infection, make sure you are keeping all chemicals up AND away; never on a counter, cabinet, or on an open shelf. The safest bet is to keep them up high, in a closed cabinet, with a lock for extra security.

Some cleaning products can cause chemical burns, so if accidental ingestion occurs, never induce vomiting. Florida’s Poison Control Centers remain available to you 24 hours a day during the pandemic to provide immediate treatment advice at 1-800-222-1222.

Mixing Cleaning Products

cleaning suppliesAnother dangerous behavior we are seeing during the coronavirus pandemic relates to the mixing of cleaning products. We are disinfecting our homes more frequently and as products become scarce, some may resort to mixing products not aware that the combinations could be dangerous.

Here are some helpful tips: 

  • Never mix cleaning products or other chemicals. 
  • Mixing these products and chemicals can create toxic gases.
  • Exposure to toxic gases like chlorine can lead to significant irritation of the skin and eyes, difficulty breathing, and even death.
  • Do not use professional grade cleaning products in your home.
  • Many cleaning products and chemicals can be irritating and have a strong odor, so open windows and doors to ventilate properly while cleaning.

If you feel sick while cleaning, stop immediately, head to fresh air and call Florida’s Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222. Call 911 if someone is having trouble breathing or is clearly in distress. 

When finished cleaning, store cleaning products and other chemicals up and away, out of reach of children.

Vitamins and Supplements

vitaminsTrying to boost your immunity? Do not overdo it on vitamins and supplements – the recommended daily dose is on the bottle for a reason. Taking too much can be harmful and can lead to undesired side effects.

For example, excess doses of vitamin C can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It also interacts negatively with some antibiotics.

Taking too much zinc can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If taken for too long, zinc can also interfere with iron absorption leading to an iron deficiency anemia.

Just like any over-the-counter medication, always consult your healthcare provider first before taking new vitamins or supplements. If you start to feel sick or have questions, call Florida’s Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222 for free treatment advice from healthcare professionals.


Florida’s Poison Control Centers are familiar with the anti-malaria drug chloroquine and its many forms. This is an effective medication for malaria, and other systemic diseases such as lupus and arthritis when used as directed. However, this drug is well known to have serious side effects including cardiac rhythm disturbances and can be unusually toxic in the event of an overdose. Signs and symptoms of adverse effects include seizures, low blood pressure, low blood potassium and major cardiac effects. People with heart conditions are at greater risk.

Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine should ONLY be taken as directed by a healthcare provider. For additional information on the dangers of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, the American Association of Poison Control Centers distributed this news release.

As people are self-isolating, many are taking extra steps to catch up on household projects. However, make sure to use caution to avoid poisonings whether cleaning the home, getting the pool ready, or even fertilizing the lawn. Always read and follow the directions on the label, wear safety protection, and keep chemicals in original containers. Remember your poison center never closes, and we’re here for you to help with any poisoning or if you have questions, at 1-800-222-1222.

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 page or the CDC’s coronavirus section of their website.