The Westmoreland Health Department is calling on parents to keep harmful chemicals out of the reach of children, in light of the increased use of sanitising products in households to protect against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The reminder from Health Promotion and Education Officer at the Health Department, Gerald Miller, comes following reports in the United States of a drastic spike in disinfectant poisoning among children since the COVID 19 pandemic.

“We too in Jamaica have to be mindful that we are using a lot of chemicals, because persons are buying bleach and other chemical agents that are used to sanitise the home,” Mr. Miller told JIS News.

He warned parents that ingesting these chemicals could result in damage to internal organs or death.

In this regard, he advised that proper storage is essential to prevent children from gaining access to these household substances.

“At this time when our children are at home and we will be having these chemicals around, we want parents to ensure that whenever you use a chemical and you are finished with it, to put it away out of the reach of children,” Mr. Miller said.

He noted that most of the children who ingest poisonous substances are usually under five years old, and that at this stage, children are naturally curious and want to explore their environment.

“We want parents to be extremely vigilant. I know it is difficult to have them at home, and when they are not engaged they can become very curious. We know children are curious and they are always exploring, especially the ones under five,” he explained.

“Some of these disinfectants are very colourful and these things will attract the child… and that child may think it is something he or she can consume,” Mr. Miller added.

In addition, Mr. Miller warned against the excessive use of disinfectants when sanitising, as noxious fumes from bleach and other chemicals can be harmful to both adults and children.