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Accidental ingesting of hand sanitizer on the rise in B.C. since coronavirus pandemic

Hand sanitizers have a high alcohol content and the BCCDC says it can cause alcohol poisoning if consumed in large amounts. Getty Images

Calls to the B.C. poison hotline about ingesting hand sanitizer have increased since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Drug & Poison Information Centre (DPIC) at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) says calls have jumped from less than two a week in January and February to an average of seven per week in April, all involving children under five.

For the same time period, calls about adults being exposed rose from an average of one per week to 3.5 per week.

READ MORE: B.C. reports 12 new COVID-19 cases, four deaths linked to Langley care home

Hand sanitizers have a high alcohol content and the BCCDC says it can cause alcohol poisoning if consumed in large amounts.

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Most of the calls have been about accidental ingesting, says the BCCDC, and the exposure has been less than a tablespoon.

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No one has been seriously injured.

“Practicing good hand hygiene is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Tom Kosatsky, the medical director of Environmental Health Services at BCCDC, said in a release. “Alcohol-based sanitizers are a good option for cleaning your hands when it’s not possible to wash them with soap and water. 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.”

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East Vancouver distillery donates hand sanitizer to the needy – Apr 13, 2020

The BCCDC says everyone should make sure to store hand sanitizer out of reach of children, pets and people with dementia.

If someone swallows any amount of hand sanitizer, call the local poison control centre. For the B.C. Drug and Poison Information Centre, call 1-800-567-8911.

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