Harmful to Children: Detergent Pods

Children are attracted to anything colorful, especially if it looks like candy.  And those colorful detergent pods we use to clean laundry and dishes can look very appetizing.   In fact, they look just like candy or juice; they’re individually wrapped, are brightly colored, and come packaged in what looks like a candy jar.  It’s no wonder that children want to taste them.

We all know any laundry detergent is harmful if swallowed, but these individually wrapped pods can be especially caustic because of their contents. Unlike regular powder detergent, the single-use pods are filled with highly concentrated detergent, which is then wrapped in a plastic covering that dissolves when exposed to water or saliva.   When swallowed, these pods can cause almost immediate distress, and the effects can be far worse than that of regular detergent.

Symptoms of pod exposure can include vomiting, coughing or choking, a mental status change and respiratory distress.  On several occasions, children have been hospitalized and had to be put on a ventilator or intubated to help them breathe.

Exposure to these pods is on the rise.  According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), there were 16,738 laundry packet exposures (in children 5 and under) reported to Poison Centers between 2012-2013 combined.  Already, in the first 7 months of 2014, there have been 9,935 reported cases of children 5 and under being exposed to the single-load laundry packets.

Below are some safety tips to follow if you use the more convenient, single-use detergent pods:

  • If you have small children then it’s best to use powder detergent. It’s not as attractive to children and the injuries are usually less severe should a child be exposed to it.
  • If you use Single-use pods then be sure to seal them tightly and store them in a high place, out of reach and sight of children.  It’s best to keep them in a locked cabinet.
  • If you use the pods, be extra vigilant about where you set them down.  Don’t set them down within reach of a child for even a second.  It only takes one second for a child to grab it and bite it, which is all it takes to poison the child, or cause burns to their face or mouth.

Below are tips for what to do if you suspect exposure:

  • If the pod is in a child’s mouth, remove it immediately
  • Gently wipe the child’s mouth
  • Wash the child’s face and hands (to prevent them from spreading it on their face or getting it in their eyes).

Call your Poison Control Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

















Batteries and child safety

     Dangers of Batteries:  Every 3 hours a child shows up in the emergency room after having swallowed a battery, or shoved it in their nose, mouth or ears.  Most of the batteries recovered are those flat, round batteries referred to as “button batteries.”  They look like a coin and are found in small devices such as remote controls, key fobs, children’s toys or watches.

     As a child safety measure, many devices that take regular AA or AAA style batteries require the batteries be secured in their compartment with a screw.   This is often not the case with “button batteries.”   They are usually not secured and are therefore accessible to children. 

     Safety Advice:  According to information reported on the Today show by Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the serious problem occurs when the battery becomes lodged in the esophagus.  The moisture sparks what he called a micro current, which “will lead to cell death and eventually burn a hole right through the esophagus.”  And all of this can happen within a short 2-hour period.  He goes on to say that if a parent is not sure but even suspects a child has swallowed one of these batteries they should be taken to the ER immediately.

     While there are no safety measures currently in place for childproofing these batteries, it is strongly recommended that parents take steps to secure the batteries themselves.  One way to do so would be to tape the battery compartment, and as always, if possible, keep the items out of children’s reach. 

     For more information on this article you can refer to www.todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com.

Dangers of Hot Cars: Another Child Dies in Georgia

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported today that a 2 year old child died after being left in a van at a day care center in Atlanta.  The article by  Alexis Stevens and Fran Jeffries also mentions that since 1998, there have been 509 deaths involving this sort of vehicular hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke.

Normally we think of the danger associated with vehicle collisions on the roadways, but this sad case is a reminder that there are plenty of dangers other than roadway wrecks involving cars, including backovers, heat strokes, and children being trapped in trunks without trunk release mechanisms.

An organization called kidsandcars is doing great work to protect our children from these sorts of dangers.  Their website – kidsandcars.org – is a wonderful site to get information about these dangers and what we can do to protect our children from them.

As one example of a way to help remember that a child is in the back seat of a vehicle, one recent article recommends that a parent put a stuffed animal in the front seat as a visual reminder that their child is in the back seat.   There are many, many more things we can do to avoid the needless deaths and injuries from hot cars and other dangers associated with vehicles.

Please take a moment to visit these websites and read these articles to learn how to prevent your children from becoming victims of these dangerous conditions in cars.