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                        Back to School Poison Safety

Notebooks, pencils, backpacks, and lunch boxes--back to school season is more than these items, but a time of transitions and new routines. New and changing routines can lead to poisonings. 

Morning Rush Medication Mix Up!

Mornings can be hectic with everyone scrambling to get out of the house. When in a hurry and distracted, medication mix ups can occur. Taking someone else’s medication can be dangerous. During this time, it is important to slow down and read all medication labels. Keep medications in their original container until ready for use. Do not lay medicine on the counter where it could be mistaken for someone else’s or where a child could get it.

Medication Double Dose

Pick one parent to consistently give medication. Especially during the rush of getting to school and work on time, one parent may medications and then without realizing it was given, the other parent may give medications again. Another way to prevent a double dose is by keeping a medication log or chart to check off when medicines are given.

Online Dares

Dares have been around for a long time but have risen in popularity with the Internet and social media. It is important to talk about the dangers of dares. While some may be harmless, others may cause harm, especially dares involving medications or chemicals. It is best not to take items to alter how one thinks or behaves, even if it is “legal.”

Mistakes with Caffeine

While students may use caffeine to help them study or get through a long day of school and extracurricular activities, large doses of caffeine can cause harm, such as nausea, insomnia, headaches, and rapid heartbeat. It is best to limit the amount of caffeine consumed. 



                                            Safe Use of Bleach and Disinfectants

                                                             A Reminder

Compared to the same time period as last year, the number of poisoning exposures in West Virginia from bleach products and disinfectants has doubled. Of note is that the majority of cases this year involve teens and adults. Children < 6 typically make up the majority of poisonings from these products. Poisonings with hand sanitizers also continue.

The West Virginia Poison Center (WVPC) wants to remind people that the safest way to keep our skin clean is with soap and water. Not only is this safe, it is a very effective way to kill the virus causing COVID-19 that might be on our skin. Attempting to clean the skin with disinfectant wipes or bleach solution is not only not necessary, these products can damage the skin and potentially cause coughing when the fumes are inhaled. Soap and water really is enough.

If you are not near soap and water, for example when getting back to your car after leaving the grocery store or gas station, hand sanitizer can be used as long as the alcohol content is 60% or more. Now that more hand sanitizer products are required to be made in non-traditional ways, since the products you would normally buy are not always available, there are added risks. Non-traditional hand sanitizer may come in bottles without the usual pump. This requires special caution. Just because it comes in a bottle that looks like a mini-bottle of liquor or a medicine bottle, NEVER drink hand sanitizer. This can be dangerous and it will not kill any viruses that you have already inhaled or that is already in your body.

Save bleach products and disinfectants for your counters and other surfaces. This is where they can work to kill the virus causing COVID-19. Drinking these products or purposefully inhaling them can harm you, not help you. These products have no way to get to where the virus is harming your cells and internal organs.

Finally, keeping the cloth masks you are using clean is important. The best way to keep them clean is to wash them in warm or hot water with soap. Do not spray them with bleach or disinfectant. The fumes will irritate your lungs the next time you wear the mask and these products can break down the material.

Please stay safe, not only from COVID-19, but from the products you use every day now. For any poisoning concerns or questions, the WV Poison Center is still available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-222-1222.


"The hotline is being provided through a long-standing emergency predparedness partnership between DHHR's Bureau for Public Health and the West Virginia Poison Center." 

Even though the WV Poison Center is operating the WV Coronavirus Hotline with its health care professional staff and supervised health care professional volunteers: 

The West Virginia Poison Center is dedicated to remaining available for poison questions and emergencies. Only trained Poison Specialists are answering these special calls: 


For poisoning questions or emergencies, call the WV Poison Center first. 

(If a person is having a seizure, is unconscious, or not breathing, call 911) 

There are many accidental poisonings and medication errors that can be managed at home. Home care is immediate care and avoids a trip to the hospital if this is not required. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting the strain on our health care facilities is especially important, as is limiting contact with large numbers of people.