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.

















Risk of Fire and Injury from Home Dryers

I wanted to share some information that I came across about the dangers associated with dryers in homes.  According to this recent article by Brian Dakss at cbsnews.com, dryers account for 15,000 house fires every year.   That number was a bit of a surprise to me.  An engineer with Underwriters Laboratory, John Drengenberg, mentions in the article that a common cause of these fires is lint.  The lint can build up in the lint trap, according to Drengenberg, and cause excessive heat and eventually a fire.

So, what should we do?  Drengenberg advises folks to clean the lint trap before or after every load, and each year the pipes and exhaust vent should be cleaned thoroughly.  Also, we should not put certain items stained with oil or gasoline in the dryer, and should avoid putting rubber or plastic items in the dryer as well.

One clue to look for to determine if lint is building up is that your clothes are not drying as well as they should.


Dangerous Toys

Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite times of the year.  Even grouchy defense lawyers and stingy insurance adjusters have a hard time dampening my spirits this time of year (though they can get close sometimes).

One thing that does concern me, though, is dangerous toys.  We’re inundated with marketing to children of all sorts of toys, and some of them are dangerous and can cause serious harm.  My hope is that we all have a safe and happy holiday with our families and friends.  So I wanted to share with you a link to a list of the Top Ten Dangerous Toys that was compiled by WATCH – World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. – called “10 Worst Toys” and found at their website.

Huffington Post also has a recent article on Dangerous Toys at their website that is worth checking out.  The reason for dangerous toys being listed runs the spectrum – some are choking hazards and others are dangerous projectiles marketed to very young children.  I was surprised by some of the dangers posed by toys that I would never suspect were potentially dangerous.

Please take a moment to review these websites before you make your purchasing decisions this season.

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.

Safe Products Website

I recently learned about a great website that lets consumer do two very important things: (2) search for safety reports on products, and (2) report unsafe products.  You can read about this website at The Consumerist and the website itself is part of the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. 

        I was surprised by how easy it was to find information about products at this site.  I went to cpsc.gov and clicked the box labelled "Report an Unsafe Product" and then did a search for "toasters" in the search box.  It returned 30 results, including recalls and reports from consumers who had experienced safety issues involving toasters. If I were shopping for a product, I would certainly check it out at this site before purchasing it. An example of good government in action!