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School supply safety information from the Virginia Poison Center
July 24, 2023
Mom looking at school supplies at the store

    By Shelly Clary, educational specialist, Virginia Poison Center

    What to look for when shopping for your children’s school supplies

    Young kids are often quick to put things in their mouths. Thankfully, most school supplies these days are nontoxic and won’t cause any significant symptoms. However, when shopping for school supplies, take precaution by looking for products with the AP seal, which indicates they’ve been certified as safe and nontoxic. It’s also a good idea for parents and teachers to start off the new school year by talking with children about safe usage and storage of pens, pencils, markers and paint products, and the importance of keeping them out of their mouth, away from their eyes and out of reach of younger children in the home.

    Also, when buying new shoes and other gear for back to school be cognizant of silica gel packets. Silica gel is a drying agent that is meant to remove moisture from enclosed spaces. These packets are often found in electronics, new shoes, bags or medicine bottles. While silica gel is usually harmless, it can cause problems and swallowing the entire package can pose a choking hazard.

    What to know about hand sanitizer

    Hand sanitizer is everywhere – attached to book bags, in purses, in dispensers down the hallways and in large bottles in the classroom. Poison centers receive calls each year for children who are exposed to hand sanitizer. Most hand sanitizers contain alcohol, but once it is rubbed into the hands, the alcohol evaporates and is no longer present. While alcohol poisonings are possible from hand sanitizer, accidentally ingesting a small amount while applying the product should not cause a child to get sick. The dose of hand sanitizer and weight of the child will determine if it is a poison.

    At the beginning of each school year take time to teach children how to use hand sanitizers properly and supervise them while they learn. If you have hand sanitizer at home or in the classroom, teach children to use less than a dime-sized amount and rub their hands together until they’re dry.

    Virginia Poison Center is a confidential, free resource

    If you have questions about potential poisons or suspect a poisoning, call the Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. Our team is available 24/7 to provide FREE and confidential medical guidance.

    Keep up with the latest health and safety news for the kids in your life on the CHoR blog.

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