With the arrival of spring on Thursday, many Iowans will leap into a house cleaning frenzy. Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and the education coordinator for the Iowa Poison Control Center, says you’ll need to use caution with all of those powerful cleansers, especially if there are kids in the house. “What we see as a lot of exposures is the household cleaning chemicals, the things that are under the kitchen sink,” Noble says. “Usually, it’s when the product is in use, when we find exposures happening to both the kids and the adults.”
While the kitchen can be a danger zone for poisonings, she says bathrooms can be just as problematic with all of those personal hygiene products.
“The toothpaste, the shampoo, the lotion, the deodorant,” Noble says. “We always get lots of calls about that and those are things that we use every day so it’s hard to lock them up or put them up high so they’re out of reach.”
She says about half of the 50,000 calls a year that come into the Sioux City-based hotline involve children and accidental poisonings. “It’s always surprising because you would think something might taste bad so they’re not going to eat it but kids don’t always have that same sense of taste that adults do,” Noble says. “Just because something tastes bad doesn’t mean they won’t eat it. Kids will still swallow it. You wouldn’t believe the calls that we get.”
She suggests Iowans program the Iowa Poison Control Center hotline into their cell phones and have the number handy by landlines. The center is staffed 24-7 and the call is free to 800-222-1222.